Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on provision of cardiology services: a scoping review.
Reviews in cardiovascular medicine. 2021;(1):83-95
The coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced hospitals to prioritize COVID-19 patients, restrict resources, and cancel all non-urgent elective cardiac procedures. Clinical visits have only been facilitated for emergency purposes. Fewer patients have been admitted to the hospital for both ST-segment elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI) and non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarctions (NSTEMI) and a profound decrease in heart failure services has been reported. A similar reduction in the patient presentation is seen for ischemic heart disease, decompensated heart failure, and endocarditis. Cardiovascular services, including catheterization, primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI), cardiac investigations such as electrocardiograms (ECGs), exercise tolerance test (ETT), dobutamine stress test, computed tomography (CT) angiography, transesophageal echocardiography (TOE) have been reported to have declined and performed on a priority basis. The long-term implications of this decline have been discussed with major concerns of severe cardiac complications and vulnerabilities in cardiac patients. The pandemic has also had psychological impacts on patients causing them to avoid seeking medical help. This review discusses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of various cardiology services and aims to provide strategies to restore cardiovascular services including structural changes in the hospital to make up for the reduced staff personnel, the use of personal protective equipment in healthcare workers, and provides alternatives for high-risk cardiac imaging, cardiac interventions, and procedures. Implementation of the triage system, risk assessment scores, and telemedicine services in patients and their adaptation to the cardiovascular department have been discussed.