Cardiac arrhythmias in patients with SARS-CoV2 infection and effects of the lockdown on invasive rhythmological therapy
BACKGROUND: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, various strategies have been taken worldwide to reduce the risk of infection. As part of the amendment to the Infection Protection Act, elective medical interventions were restricted, leading to a change in patient care. However, the consequences of the lockdown on the treatment of rhythmological patients in Germany remains unclear. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to analyze the reduction in rhythmological interventions and the patient care situation using a nationwide survey during the first lockdown period. METHODS: A survey was sent to all electrophysiological centers certified by the German Society of Cardiology. Here, the treatment volume of tachycardia and bradycardia and their invasive therapy were surveyed before and during the lockdown period. Furthermore, the number of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) treated at these centers and the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias was also recorded. RESULTS: Participating centers performed a total of 24,648 ablation procedures/year and represent approximately 34% (24,648/72,548) of the estimated German ablation treatments. The majority of these centers (33/40; 82.5%) were so-called primary COVID-19 hospitals (level-1). Overall, the number of ablations and pacemaker implantations were reduced by 41% and 18% respectively. Due to postponed ablation procedures and pacemaker implantations, 22/40 (55%) centers reported a worsening of clinical symptoms or early re-hospitalization of their patients. CONCLUSION: These results demonstrate a significant decline in elective rhythmological procedures during the lockdown, as required by the German Federal Government. At the same time, however, more than half of the participating centers reported an increase in patient re-hospitalizations due to postponed procedures.