COVID-19 Pandemic Dramatically Increased Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Cases and Deaths in New York City

Study Based on New York City EMS Calls Finds Cases Nearly Tripled From Previous Year

JUNE 19, 2020—(BRONX, NY)—The COVID-19 pandemic in New York City caused a surge in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and deaths, according to a study co-authored by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System, and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).

David J. Prezant, M.D.
David J. Prezant, M.D.

The study, published online today in JAMA Cardiology, found a three-fold increase in out-of-hospital non-traumatic cardiac-arrest cases in March and April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. On the worst day—April 6—cardiac arrests peaked at 305 cases, an increase of nearly 10-fold compared with the same day one year earlier. The mortality rate for cardiac-arrest cases also rose, from 75% in 2019 to more than 90% during the same period in 2020.

“Relatively few, if any, patients were tested to confirm the presence of COVID-19, so we couldn’t distinguish between cardiac arrests attributable to COVID-19 and those that may have resulted from other health conditions,” said study senior author David Prezant, M.D., professor of medicine at Einstein, a clinical pulmonologist at Montefiore, and the Chief Medical Officer at the FDNY. “We also can’t rule out the possibility that some people may have died from delays in seeking or receiving treatment for non-COIVD-19-related conditions. However, the dramatic increase in cardiac arrests compared to the same period in 2019, strongly indicates that the pandemic was directly or indirectly responsible for that surge in cardiac arrests and deaths.”

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