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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 176-179

Our first encounter with a COVID-19 patient in cardiology ward: Lessons learned

Department of Cardiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sivasubramanian Ramakrishnan
Department of Cardiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpcs.jpcs_38_20

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COVID-19 is an ongoing global pandemic caused by a betacoronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. Within few months after the first index case is identified in Wuhan city of China, it attained a global pandemic status due to its unique epidemiology and pathophysiology. It typically presents with signs and symptoms of viral pneumonia. Patients with cardiac disease are at increased risk of COVID disease and create a diagnostic dilemma in differentiating from respiratory illnesses for the cardiologists. Furthermore, ST-segment changes in electrocardiogram and troponin elevation which form a key diagnostic point in the diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes are frequently seen in COVID-19 patients. This is a matter of utmost concern as the diagnostic dilemma caused may lead to many patients who may not have epicardial coronary artery disease that may be taken up for invasive angiography. Moreover, the prejudice caused by the COVID-19 is leading to fewer admissions for acute coronary syndromes and fewer primary percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty leading to inappropriate management of deserving patients with genuine acute coronary syndromes. These patients form a very important chunk of population as on the one hand, they are more likely to spread the infection if they are improperly triaged, and on the other hand, they are less likely to receive proper guideline-directed treatment of cardiovascular syndromes increasing the mortality from primary cardiac pathology. The following case highlights the above-mentioned issues faced in triaging and treating a patient who presented a diagnostic dilemma. Our patient a 53-year-old lady who is a known case of chronic coronary syndrome with effort-induced angina on exertion for the last 4 months on medical management presented to the emergency department, after being rejected admission by three hospitals, with features of chest pain at rest 5 days prior to admission associated with dyspnea and nonproductive cough along with elevated troponin and ST elevation. She was initially diagnosed as acute coronary syndrome with acute heart failure and was taken up to the cardiology ward where a proper clinical examination suggesting right middle lobe localized crackles and chest X-ray findings prompted the suspicion of COVID-19, testing for which by a viral RNA-based test came as positive. This case illustrated the unique challenge posed by the COVID-19 for the cardiologist and the importance of clinical examination and a high index of suspicion needed along with prompt isolation of any suspected case. She was shifted to the COVID ward from where she was discharged after 5 weeks.

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