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30-06-2020 | Original Article | Uitgave 7-8/2020 Open Access

Netherlands Heart Journal 7-8/2020

An international survey in Latin America on the practice of interventional cardiology during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on myocardial infarction

Tijdschrift:
Netherlands Heart Journal > Uitgave 7-8/2020
Auteurs:
J. Mayol, C. Artucio, I. Batista, A. Puentes, J. Villegas, R Quizpe, V. Rojas, J. Mangione, J. Belardi, STEMI Working Group of Stent-Save a Life! LATAM and SOLACI (Latin American Society of Interventional Cardiology)
Belangrijke opmerkingen

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12471-020-01440-y) contains supplementary material which is available to authorized users.
The members of the STEMI Working Group of Stent-Save a Life! LATAM/SOLACI (Latin American Society of Interventional Cardiology) are listed in the Acknowledgements. A more detailed version can be found in the Electronic Supplementary Material.
What’s new?
  • A marked reduction in interventional cardiology activity has been observed in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic, both in elective and emergency procedures, particularly in patients with STEMI.
  • In Latin America patient behaviour has been quite homogeneous, although varying quarantine measures in the individual countries have restricted mobility to different degrees.
  • The health authorities should be alert regarding the care of STEMI patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Introduction

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to the installation of unprecedented health measures in almost every country worldwide. In some countries, particularly in Europe, healthcare systems have become saturated, especially emergency departments and intensive care units, potentially influencing healthcare availability for patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The prognosis in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is particularly dependent on rapid diagnosis and prompt implementation of reperfusion therapy [ 1].
However, the necessary quarantine measures have reduced people’s mobility and appear to have affected particularly the number of high-risk patients consulting medical services and the delay in doing so. This new reality has recently been objectified in countries in Asia, Europe and North America, with fewer interventional cardiology procedures being performed during the pandemic [ 24].
In Latin America, the first COVID-19 cases were established later than in Asia and Europe, potentially altering patients’ demographics. The impact of this pandemic on healthcare provision for non-COVID-19 patients in Latin America has not yet been assessed, especially for those with ACS. Cardiovascular disease has a high prevalence in Latin America, where it represents the leading cause of death, underlining the significance of this problem. Therefore, it is important to gather information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on interventional cardiology activity in Latin America.
For 3 years, the Stent-Save a Life initiative! (S-SL!) has been working in Latin America with the endorsement of the Latin American Society of Interventional Cardiology (SOLACI), promoting the application of clinical guidelines on the care of STEMI patients, stimulating more and better reperfusion treatment, both through academic activities and the organisation of regional reperfusion networks. The presence of this Latin American network was used to evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on STEMI care. A telematic survey was performed with the main objective of quantifying the degree of variation in care activity in interventional cardiology services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular attention to STEMI. A secondary objective was to analyse the changes in the diagnosis and treatment of acute myocardial infarction with ST-segment elevation.

Methods

A cross-cutting, descriptive and observational study was conducted by means of an opinion survey to assess activity in Latin American interventional cardiology centres during one fortnight before and a fortnight after the introduction of quarantine or social isolation measures in each country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This survey consisted of three blocks of questions:
1.
In the first block, the respondent was characterised by requesting: country, city, name of the centre, head of the centre, person responsible for answering the survey questions, and contact mail.
 
2.
The second block quantified the procedures: total number of coronary angiography (CAG) procedures, CAG performed in patients with ACS, total number of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), PCI for STEMI and structural interventions, before and after the introduction of quarantine measures as a result of the pandemic in the respective countries. The variation between the two periods, expressed as a percentage, was calculated. An analysis was carried out per country and for the whole of Latin America.
 
3.
The third block presented closed questions with multiple answers, aimed at the analysis of the diagnosis and treatment of STEMI.
 
Included in this web survey were all interventional cardiology centres of Latin American countries whose members are in the SOLACI database, which were invited to participate by mail. The data used came from the local databases of each participating centre. The Google Forms tool was used, self-adjusting to multi-platforms.
The requested data corresponded to two periods of 14 days each, separated by an interval of 2 weeks. These periods were defined individually for each of the 20 Latin American countries, according to the date of declaration of the health emergency or introduction of quarantine measures in each of them.
The pre-COVID-19 period was the same in all cases, 24 February 2020 to 8 March 2020. The COVID-19 period was defined as shown in Table  1, confirming the dates with references from each country.
Table 1
Definition of pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods by region and country of Latin America
Region
Country
Quarantine date
Pre-COVID-19 period
COVID-19 period
Central America and the Caribbean
Belize
11 April 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Costa Rica
17 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Cuba
20 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Dominican Republic
16 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
El Salvador
23 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Guatemala
22 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Honduras
16 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Mexico
30 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Nicaragua
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Panama
25 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Andean
Colombia
24 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Ecuador
12 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Peru
16 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Venezuela
16 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Southern Cone
Argentina
19 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Bolivia
16 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Brazil
21 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Chile
26 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
30 March–12 April 2020
Paraguay
10 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
Uruguay
14 March 2020
24 February–8 March 2020
23 March–5 April 2020
The survey was sent on 17 April 2020, with responses being received by 30 April 2020; the information requested is summarised in Fig  1.

Results

Information was received from 79 centres in the 20 Latin American countries consulted (Table  2). The participating cardiology centres are detailed in Appendix 2 (see Electronic Supplementary Material).
Table 2
Variation in the number of procedures per country and for the whole of Latin America
 
A
All procedures
B
Coronary angiography
C
PCI
D
Structural interventions
Country
No. of centres
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
Argentina
6
 
290
90
−68.9
 
206
62
−69.9
 
76
25
−67.1
 
8
3
−62.5
Belize
1
 
15
6
−60
 
11
6
−45.5
 
4
−100
 
Bolivia
2
 
37
10
−72.9
 
25
7
−72
 
12
3
−75
 
Brazil
7
 
855
337
−60.6
 
617
235
−61.9
 
204
100
−50.9
 
34
2
−94.1
Chile
14
 
1354
473
−65.1
 
895
295
−67
 
434
176
−59.4
 
25
2
−92
Colombia
9
 
954
305
−68
 
587
189
−67.8
 
325
100
−69.2
 
42
16
−61.9
Costa Rica
1
 
332
151
−54.5
 
220
100
−54.5
 
100
50
−50
 
12
1
−91.7
Cuba
1
 
42
−100
 
26
−100
 
16
−100
 
Ecuador
5
 
315
48
−84.8
 
184
24
−86.9
 
101
24
−76.2
 
30
−100
El Salvador
1
 
17
2
−88.2
 
10
1
−90
 
7
1
−85.7
 
Guatemala
2
 
66
9
−86.4
 
44
8
−81.8
 
13
1
−92.3
 
9
−100
Honduras
1
 
35
12
−65.7
 
25
6
−76
 
10
6
−40
 
Mexico
4
 
100
28
−72
 
47
16
−65.9
 
35
10
−97.1
 
18
2
−88.9
Nicaragua
1
 
38
6
−84.2
 
25
4
−84
 
13
2
−84.6
 
Panama
1
 
195
69
−64.6
 
128
44
−65.6
 
60
25
−58.3
 
7
−100
Paraguay
8
 
344
120
−65.1
 
222
75
−66.2
 
119
45
−62.2
 
3
−100
Peru
2
 
160
33
−79.4
 
100
19
−81
 
58
14
−75.9
 
2
−100
Dominican Republic
1
 
64
11
−82.8
 
38
4
−89.5
 
26
7
−73.1
 
Uruguay
8
 
456
311
−31.8
 
294
188
−36.1
 
153
122
−20.3
 
9
1
−88.9
Venezuela
4
 
34
27
−20.6
 
19
14
−26.3
 
13
12
−7.7
 
2
1
−50
Total
79
 
5703
2048
−64.1
 
3723
1297
−65.2
 
1779
723
−59.4
 
201
28
−86.1
A Variation in the total number of procedures per country and for the whole of Latin America. B Variation in the total number of coronary angiography procedures per country. C Variation in the total number of percutaneous coronary interventions ( PCI) per country and for the whole of Latin America. D Variation in the number of structural interventions per country, including valvuloplasty, TAVI (percutaneous aortic valve implantation), atrial septal defect closure, etc.
During the pre-COVID-19 period, 5703 procedures were carried out in the centres in Latin America that responded to the survey. Of these, 3723 were CAG [1995 (53.6%) ACS], 1779 PCI [814 (45.8%) STEMI] and 201 structural interventions.
In the COVID-19 period, 2048 procedures were carried out in these centres. Of these, 1297 were CAG [884 (68.2%) ACS], 723 PCI [397 (54.9%) STEMI] and 28 structural interventions.
All of the care activities showed a very significant decrease during the COVID-19 period, as depicted in Fig.  2. The total number of procedures decreased by 64.1%.
Table  2 (part A) shows the total number of procedures per country during the pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods, as well as the variation, expressed as a percentage.
The total number of diagnostic procedures decreased by 65.2% (Table  2, part B), CAG for stable cardiovascular pathologies decreased by 76% (1728 pre-COVID-19 period vs 413 COVID-19 period) and CAG for ACS by 55.7% (Table  3, part A).
Table 3
Variation in the total number of procedures per country and for Latin America
 
A
Coronary angiography for ACS
B
PCI for STEMI
Country
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
 
Pre-COVID-19
COVID-19
Variation (%)
Argentina
 
84
23
−72.6
 
21
12
−42.9
Belize
 
2
−100
 
2
−100
Bolivia
 
9
4
−55.6
 
5
1
−80
Brazil
 
286
152
−46.9
 
40
22
−45
Chile
 
400
219
−45.3
 
174
103
−40.8
Colombia
 
476
144
−69.7
 
166
72
−56.6
Costa Rica
 
150
50
−66.7
 
60
30
−40
Cuba
 
7
−100
 
2
−100
Ecuador
 
74
28
−62.2
 
53
21
−60.4
El Salvador
 
4
−100
 
2
Guatemala
 
15
8
−46.7
 
7
1
−85.7
Honduras
 
15
6
−60
 
10
3
−70
Mexico
 
32
14
−56.3
 
25
9
−64
Nicaragua
 
6
−100
 
5
−100
Panama
 
45
23
−48.9
 
35
23
−34.3
Paraguay
 
130
52
−60
 
92
41
−55.4
Peru
 
38
19
−50
 
21
11
−47.6
Dominican Republic
 
21
3
−85.7
 
19
−100
Uruguay
 
186
128
−31.2
 
67
42
−37.3
Venezuela
 
15
11
−26.7
 
8
6
−25
Total
 
1995
884
−55.7
 
814
397
−51.2
A Variation in the number of coronary angiography procedures for acute coronary syndromes ( ACS) by country and for Latin America. B Variation in the number of percutaneous coronary interventions ( PCI) for ST-elevation coronary infarction ( STEMI) by country and for the whole of Latin America
Concerning the total number of PCI procedures, the variation was −59.4% (Table  2, part C), −51.2% for PCI in STEMI (Table  3, part B). The greatest variation (−86.1%) was observed in structural interventions (Table  2, part D).
With regard to the outcome in STEMI patients, 42.5% of all respondents reported that the use of thrombolytics was the same in both periods (Fig.  3a); most (87.5%) considered that fewer cases of STEMI were diagnosed in the COVID-19 period (Fig.  3b) and more than half (58.8%) showed an increase in the length of the delay to reperfusion in STEMI patients (Fig.  3c).

Discussion

The results show a clear and sustained decrease in all healthcare activity in the interventional cardiology centres in Latin America. The data are very homogeneous among the different countries, which expresses a common profile for the whole region.
This finding is consistent with recently published international studies [ 24]. A study from a single hospital in Hong Kong showed not only a sharp increase in time from symptom onset to first medical contact in STEMI patients treated after the infection control measures were instituted, but also delays in evaluating patients with STEMI after hospital arrival [ 2].
A Spanish study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic conducted by Rodríguez-Leor et al., with a special interest in the incidence of PCI for STEMI in 17 autonomous communities and 81 centres, showed a significant decrease in the number of diagnostic procedures (−57%), PCI (−48%), STEMI cases (−40%) and structural interventions (−81%) after quarantine [ 3].
Garcia et al. analysed and quantified the activity of nine high-volume primary PCI centres (i.e. those performing more than 100 primary PCI per year). A pre-COVID-19 period of 14 months (1 January 2019 to 29 February 2020) versus a COVID-19 period of 1 month (1–31 March 2020) was compared. Preliminary analyses in the early phase of the pandemic showed a reduction of 38% of the activation of the heart attack code [ 4].
Our study confirms these findings, showing that the non-urgent procedures were the ones that decreased most significantly. However, it is striking that procedures in ACS patients were also significantly reduced.
The primary goal of this study was to quantify the reduction in cardiac care during the COVID-19 period. It can be expected that the marked reduction in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures translates into an increase in cardiac mortality and morbidity. The clinical outcome of patients is most relevant and requires complex analysis, which was beyond the scope of this inventory study.
The study does not clarify the reasons for the decrease in cardiac interventions. It cannot be explained by the saturation of the health system, since at the time the survey was done, this phenomenon had been confirmed in a very isolated way, limited to particular cities. It is conceivable that confinement, which limited the mobility of people, as well as the fear of contagion from going to hospitals, constitute the background for the lower number of consultations, especially for those who suffer from ACS and are widely considered as one of the risk groups.
The homogeneity of the decrease in care activity contrasts with the different degrees of penetration or virulence of the infection in the 20 countries, as well as with the varied spectrum of confinement rigidity decreed by governments. There has been a mandatory quarantine declaration (Argentina), voluntary quarantine (Uruguay, Mexico, Chile), non-stringent recommendations (Brazil), and the no-quarantine declaration as in Nicaragua. Perhaps similar behaviour by different communities has prevailed over the other potential variables.
It is necessary to be aware of the situation during the evolution of this pandemic, to take the necessary measures, since the lack of adequate care is not only affecting the present situation but will also affect short- and mid-term outcomes because many patients have not received adequate care during the acute phase of coronary syndromes.

Limitations

The survey has a selection bias, as it is a voluntary survey, with responses received from variable proportions of intervention centres in each country. While in countries such as Belize, Chile or Uruguay almost 100% of the centres were reached, in other countries, such as Brazil, Mexico or Argentina, fewer representative responses were obtained. In any case, all the Latin American countries that are members of SOLACI are represented. Data came from local databases in each centre, so it is possible that different criteria were applied during data collection.
Despite this, the number of procedures recorded is significant and the results are very homogeneous among the different countries, which expresses the same situation profile for the whole region.

Conclusions

This study shows that in Latin America there has been a very significant decrease in care activity in interventional cardiology during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decrease has been predominantly in non-urgent patients, but it has also been very significant in those with ACS and especially those with STEMI. This finding shows that there may be a risk of increased mortality and/or morbidity from this pathology during the pandemic. Healthcare providers should encourage patients with suspected STEMI symptoms to contact emergency services promptly, to ensure rapid diagnosis and timely reperfusion treatment.

Funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The work of researchers was performed on an honorary basis. The Google Forms survey format is free to use.

Acknowledgement. Members of the STEMI Working Group of Stent-Save a Life! LATAM/SOLACI (Latin American Society of Interventional Cardiology)

Jorge Mayol; Carolina Artucio; Ignacio Batista; Angel Puentes; John Gough; Luis Urna; Jorge Villegas; Luis Gutiérrez Jaikel; Ronald Aroche; Ricardo Quizpe; Marco Fuentes; Hector Mora; Francisco Somoza; Patricio Ortiz; Daniel Meneses; Alfaro Marchena; Victor Rojas; Cesar Conde; Aramis Gomez; Pedro Hidalgo; Jose Mangione; Jorge Belardi

Conflict of interest

J. Mayol, C. Artucio, I. Batista, A. Puentes, J. Villegas, R. Quizpe,V. Rojas, J. Mangione and J. Belardi declare that they have no competing interests.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​.

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