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Post-acute cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19 in children and adolescents: An EHR cohort study from the RECOVER Project

Zhang, B; Thacker, D; Zhou, T; et al., medRxiv

Caution: Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.
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May 2024




Background: The risk of cardiovascular outcomes in the post-acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection has been quantified among adults and children. This paper aimed to assess a multitude of cardiac signs, symptoms, and conditions, as well as focused on patients with and without congenital heart defects (CHDs), to provide a more comprehensive assessment of the post-acute cardiovascular outcomes among children and adolescents after COVID-19. Methods: This retrospective cohort study used data from the RECOVER consortium comprising 19 US children's hospitals and health institutions between March 2020 and September 2023. Every participant had at least a six-month follow-up after cohort entry. Absolute risks of incident post-acute COVID-19 sequelae were reported. Relative risks (RRs) were calculated by contrasting COVID-19-positive with COVID-19-negative groups using a Poisson regression model, adjusting for demographic, clinical, and healthcare utilization factors through propensity scoring stratification. Results: A total of 1,213,322 individuals under 21 years old (mean[SD] age, 7.75[6.11] years; 623,806 male [51.4%]) were included. The absolute rate of any post-acute cardiovascular outcome in this study was 2.32% in COVID-19 positive and 1.38% in negative groups. Patients with CHD post-SARS-CoV-2 infection showed increased risks of any cardiovascular outcome (RR, 1.63; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.47-1.80), including increased risks of 11 of 18 post-acute sequelae in hypertension, arrhythmias (atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias), myocarditis, other cardiac disorders (heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrest), thrombotic disorders (thrombophlebitis and thromboembolism), and cardiovascular-related symptoms (chest pain and palpitations). Those without CHDs also experienced heightened cardiovascular risks after SARS-CoV-2 infection (RR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.57-1.69), covering 14 of 18 conditions in hypertension, arrhythmias (ventricular arrhythmias and premature atrial or ventricular contractions), inflammatory heart disease (pericarditis and myocarditis), other cardiac disorders (heart failure, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrest, and cardiogenic shock), thrombotic disorders (pulmonary embolism and thromboembolism), and cardiovascular-related symptoms (chest pain, palpitations, and syncope). Conclusions: Both children with and without CHDs showed increased risks for a variety of cardiovascular outcomes after SARS-CoV-2 infection, underscoring the need for targeted monitoring and management in the post-acute phase. 


Bingyu Zhang, Deepika Thacker, Ting Zhou, Dazheng Zhang, Yuqing Lei, Jiajie Chen, Elizabeth Chrischilles, Dimitri A Christakis, Soledad Fernandez, Vidu Garg, Susan Kim, Abu S M Mosa, Marion R Sills, Bradley W Taylor, David A Williams, Qiong Wu, Christopher B Forrest, Yong Chen


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