By Eteri Tsetskhladze, Md, Phd, Jeffery Zucker, Senior Vice President, Global Clinical Operations, and Michael F. Murphy, Md, Phd, Chief Medical & Scientific Officer
Numerous publications have examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both cardiac health care delivery in general and cardiometabolic research in particular.1-5 In the early days of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) issued guidance intended to help health care facilities prepare for and protect both employees and patients from exposure to the coronavirus.6-7 Hospitals and emergency care sites around the world began to postpone or limit the performance of non-critical procedures both to protect staff and to minimize the risk that otherwise uninfected patients would be exposed to COVID-19. Concurrently, the members of the general population were discouraged from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. When medical care could be postponed, it frequently was.3
During these same early days, facilities strove to preserve staff and resources so as to be prepared to deliver routine emergency cardiac care services— for congestive heart failure, heart attacks, lethal arrhythmias, and the like—because they anticipated such events would continue to occur with their normal regularity. To the surprise of many, they did not seem to. As one cardiologist wrote, “the expected burden of cardiovascular disease never materialized.”4 Or did it?