Study confirms deadly risk of COVID-19 for those with heart failure

The largest study of its kind in Australia has found patients with a history of heart failure are three times more likely to die from COVID-19.

Launched last year at the outset of the pandemic, the AUS-COVID trial is investigating those who are most at risk from COVID-19 in Australia. To date, it has assessed hundreds of patients in 21 hospitals across the country.

The study confirmed earlier concerns by clinicians and demonstrated that patients with pre-existing heart failure are three times more likely to die from COVID-19. Over 100,000 Australians live with heart failure according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The study found that patients with chronic kidney disease are twice are likely to die from COVID-19, while patients with chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis are also around twice as likely to die from the virus.

Kolling researcher and Head of Cardiology at Royal North Shore Hospital Professor Ravinay Bhindi said the findings have provided valuable data to assist in the treatment of new cases of COVID-19.

“The research is providing timely advice for clinicians, helping them identify the patients most likely to deteriorate and therefore in need of a higher level of care,” he said.

“These patient outcomes and emerging trends are also underpinning the importance of vaccination.

“It’s critical that all patients with heart failure and other chronic conditions are vaccinated against COVID-19. We now have the data to show that if you have one of these chronic conditions and you’re not vaccinated when you get COVID-19, you are much more likely to die.

“Our research is based on hundreds of cases across Australia, many with tragic outcomes. It’s important that we use this information to inform the care we provide for patients, and address any vaccine hesitancy with real-life experience.”