The world has been heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. By mid-June 2020, a third of COVID-19 cases and almost half of COVID-19 deaths occurred in Europe. The continuing pandemic presents a severe stress test for healthcare systems.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on people with underlying conditions and those with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in particular. CVD patients who are exposed to COVID-19 are at increased risk of complications and death as the heart and circulatory system is put under great strain. European data show that CVD is the one of the most common comorbidity in deceased COVID-19 patients. Cardiovascular complications linked to COVID-19 are also wide ranging and include cardiac injury, arrhythmia and heart failure. Moreover, COVID-19 seems to be associated to the development of blood clots with studies suggesting that clots arise in 20–30% of critically ill COVID-19 patients. The repercussions of the pandemic on CVD morbidity and mortality risk being exponential.
The pandemic has definitely shown the importance of investing in keeping people healthy. Another important lesson is transforming healthcare services so that they are not relying uniquely on hospitals. Finally, knowing the size of the population at risk of major chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and therefore also at risk of complications and need for hospitalisation when hit by communicable disease, is key for preparedness.
Research for this paper was mainly conducted before the pandemic. The paper aims to inform about available strategies and tools; it does not aim to address screening for cardiovascular risk in the context of a health crisis.
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