The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has published a guidance document on managing cardiovascular disease during the pandemic.

This detailed document provides healthcare professionals with the best available knowledge, based on practical experience, on how to diagnose and manage cardiovascular conditions in Covid-19 patients, treat the coronavirus infection, and organise and prioritise care.

As Covid-19 not only causes viral pneumonia but also has major implications for the cardiovascular system, heart and stroke patients are more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19, as are people with risk other factors, including advanced age, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. In addition, COVID-19 patients may develop heart damage, which raises their chance of dying.

Moreover, a wide range of arrhythmias has been reported to complicate the course of Covid-19 including potential pro-arrhythmic effects of medical treatment targeted at Covid-19 and associated diseases. Owing to redistribution of healthcare resources, access to emergency treatment including reperfusion therapy may be affected depending on the severity of the epidemic at a local level. This is further aggravated by increasing concerns of delayed presentation of CV emergencies as patients are afraid to seek medical attention during the pandemic.

Guidance based on observations and personal experience of Covid-19

For all these reasons, the ESC assembled a group of experts and practitioners with experience in the care of Covid-19 patients to provide a guidance document relevant for all aspects of CV care during the pandemic. 

The ESC added that the recommendations were the result of observations and personal experience from healthcare providers as current evidence related to SARS-CoV‑2 and its disease manifestations is observational and prospectively designed interventions are missing to form the basis for evidence-based recommendations.

The guidance document also does not replace any of the official ESC guidelines and is valid only as long as the pandemic status is maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO).