Cardiology in Times of Coronavirus: The Perfect Storm

Since January 2020, the COVID-19 infection has spread from China to the rest of the world. The clinical picture has several points in common with influenza, being mild or asymptomatic in most cases. However, around 15% of cases shows complications with interstitial pneumonia that can lead to respiratory failure.


Given the lack of vaccine or specific treatment, we are left with only two options: giving vital support including mechanical ventilation or even extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (at the risk of collapsing the healthcare system) or trying or contain the spreading with drastic (and obnoxious) measures such as lockdown. 

Most centers and healthcare systems in the world are not prepared to handle the abrupt and massive bed demand necessary to treat acute severe respiratory failure. 

This emergency has progressively involved cardiologists, since facing overflowed ICUs requires cardiology units to give up their beds. 

Read also: Cath Lab Management Protocol for the COVID-19 Outbreak.

The reorganization has left the “classic” cardiology patients nowhere to go. This situation has been made clear with the cancellation of practically all surgical and transcatheter procedures that had been programmed. 

The crisis is acute and too recent for us to be able to come up with effective solutions in the short term. At the end of the day, all our concerns about cardiology are set aside when compared against the need to help COVID patients in trying to control the pandemic. 

Only a sound mind and body will enable cardiologists to face consequences head on (beyond facemasks and clean hands) and help us navigate the perfect storm. 

Original Title: The Cardiologist at the time of Coronavirus: a perfect storm.

Reference: Claudio Rapezzi y Roberto Ferrari.  European Heart Journal 2020, 41(13), 1320–1322.

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