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People who have cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, or heart failure often have poor outcomes during acute illness. Cardiac injury commonly occurs with COVID-19 illness, exacerbating preexisting cardiovascular disease. A recent editorial summarizes the available data regarding adverse outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease and COVID-19.

The authors of the editorial describe the findings from two recent studies conducted at a teaching hospital in Wuhan, China. One study compared the outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who had myocardial damage versus COVID-19 patients without myocardial damage. More than half (51 percent) of those with myocardial damage died while in the hospital, but only 4.5 percent of those without myocardial damage died in the hospital. Another study had similar findings, with higher death rates (59.6 percent) among patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease and elevated troponin (a marker of cardiac injury) compared to those with normal troponin levels (8.9 percent).

The findings from these two studies suggest that cardiac injury commonly occurs in patients with COVID-19 and markedly increases risk of death among patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease. These patients might require more aggressive care than other patients.

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