Scientists in the US, including an Indian-origin researcher, have found that residents of Ventura County in California had a 38 per cent increase of sudden cardiac arrest during the first two years of the pandemic.
Most affected were Hispanic residents, who faced a 77 per cent increase of the condition causing a sudden loss of heart function that is usually fatal, said the researcher, adding that rates of sudden cardiac arrest rose sharply during the pandemic.
The study by investigators at the Smidt Heart Institute in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center also found that overall survival from sudden cardiac arrest declined from 15.3 per cent to 10 per cent during the pandemic.
"These real-world findings that span the Covid-19 pandemic have uncovered important ethnicity-specific challenges that could be addressed to help the community, especially in the event of future outbreaks,a said study co-senior author Sumeet Chugh, director of the Center for Cardiac Arrest Prevention at the Smidt Heart Institute.
Although studies in other communities have reported similar findings, this is the first study to include data from two full years of the pandemic and to evaluate the differences in sudden cardiac arrest rates by ethnicity.
"While we believe some of the rising cases of sudden cardiac arrest could have been a direct result of Covid-19 infection, we also suspect that indirect effects of the pandemic played a crucial role in the spike of incidence, and in the decline of survival," elaborated Kyndaron Reinier, research associate professor in the Department of Cardiology in Smidt Heart Institute.
The indirect effects may have included patients delaying preventive care for their heart conditions during the pandemic as well as waiting to call 911 for chest pain or other cardiac-related symptoms.
Additionally, bystander CPR declined among all residents, especially Hispanic residents, said the study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Heart Rhythm.
"As we look to future waves of Covid-19 or entirely new pandemics, this study emphasises the importance of seeking preventive -- and emergent -- care when needed," said Reinier. [IANS/JS]