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Heartbeat: cardiovascular health in the time of COVID-19
  1. Catherine M Otto
  1. Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Catherine M Otto, Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98115, USA; cmotto{at}

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact population health by indirect effects on patient and healthcare systems, in addition to the direct effects of COVID-19 itself. Accurate and quantitative information about the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cardiovascular disease (CVD) services and outcomes will allow better public health planning. Ball and colleagues1 aim to ‘design and implement a simple tool for monitoring and visualising trends in CVD hospital services in the UK’ and towards that end they present pilot data from a preliminary cohort of nine UK hospitals in this issue of Heart. Comparing 6 months in 2019–2020 (that include the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK) to the same time period in 2018–2019, there was a 57.9% decrease in total hospital admissions and a 52.9% decrease in emergency department visits (figure 1). In addition, there was a 31%–88% decline during lockdown in procedures for treatment of cardiac, cerebrovascular and other vascular conditions.

Figure 1

Overall hospital activity (admissions, ED attendances and COVID-19 admissions) between 31 October 2019 and 10 May 2020 compared with the same weeks from 2018 to 2019. Lines describe the mean hospital activities in 2019–2020 (solid) and 2018–2019 (dotted). Shading represents 95% CI of the respective hospital activity. The first case of COVID-19 was on 31 January 2020 and lockdown started on 23 March 2020. ED, emergency department.

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