Late-Breaking Science at ESC Congress 2020 Addresses COVID-19 and Cardiovascular Disease

A series of Late-Breaking Science sessions presented at ESC Congress 2020 on Sunday, Aug. 29 addressed new research pertaining to COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease, including two studies looking at the prevalence of cardiovascular risk in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as well as the quality of research published in three major medical journals, respectively.

In the study looking at cardiovascular risk, Manan Pareek, MD, PhD, and Avinainder Singh, MD, et al. analyzed data from the Yale COVID-19 Cardiovascular Registry to determine the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, established cardiovascular disease, and associated medications in COVID-19 patients. They also looked to identify risk factors for incident cardiovascular events and mortality. Of the 485 patients included in the study, 46% were female, 49% were White, 27% were Black and 16% were Hispanic. Nearly half of patients were on statins, while close to 40% were on ACEi or ARBs, beta blockers, and/or aspirin. Pareek and colleagues noted an overall high baseline of cardiovascular risk, as well as high mortality and risk of cardiovascular complications. Additionally, cardiovascular disease and biomarkers predicted poor outcomes.

In the other study of research published in major medical journals, Giulio Stefanini, MD, PhD,MSc, and colleagues used PubMed to compare original research articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2019 and from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2020. Articles were assessed based on four parameters: 1) Use of randomized design; 2) Defined primary hypothesis; 3) Defined primary endpoint; and 4) GRADE.

The study findings suggest that quality of evidence published in major medical journals were lower in 2020 compared with 2019, largely due to COVID-19. However, the authors observed no impact on cardiovascular research. "Our findings underscore the need for a rigorous peer-review process and a balanced interpretation of findings during public emergencies to avoid a potential detrimental effect on clinical management," Stefanini said. Limitations of the study included the focus on only three medical journals and the four-month timeline when available knowledge on COVID-19 was limited.

While JACC Journals were not part of the study, JACC Editor in Chief Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC, noted significant increases ranging from 50% to 110% in submissions across the journals since the COVID-19 pandemic. "We believe these increases resulted from science related to the virus itself, as well as the fact that some clinicians and researchers were social distancing and completing outstanding manuscripts," he said. Fuster joined his counterparts from NEJM, JAMA and Circulation for a joint session on the challenges and opportunities for scientific journals in the digital world, where this was one of the topics discussed.  

More information on the COVID-19 and Cardiovascular Disease Late-Breaking Science session can be accessed here. The ACC's COVID-19 Hub continues to include the latest clinical guidance, expert commentary, front-line perspectives, Quick Tip videos and more at Additionally, the College's Summer COVID-19 Education Series features one-hour expert panel discussions on hot topics related to COVID-19, including navigating the latest research and best managing cardiovascular disease patients with COVID-19. The entire series is available on demand for free.

Clinical Topics: Acute Coronary Syndromes, Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Dyslipidemia, Prevention

Keywords: ESC Congress, ESC20, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Dyslipidemias, Primary Prevention, Acute Coronary Syndrome

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