Response to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant reduction in cardiac diagnostic procedure volume across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
A survey of 63 centres across the three countries showed a total cardiology procedure volume reduction of 52.2% from March 2019 to April 2020.
This compared to a 75.9% reduction in the rest of the world, the study published in Heart, Lung and Circulation said.
“In Oceania, transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) decreased by 51.6%, transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) by 74.0%, and stress tests by 65% overall, which was more pronounced for stress electrocardiograph (ECG) (81.8%) and stress echocardiography (76.7%) compared to stress single-photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) (44.3%).”
“Invasive coronary angiography decreased by 36.7%,” the study said.
The size of the reduction in procedural volumes was not significantly different in public versus private, hospital versus outpatient, teaching versus non-teaching, or metropolitan versus regional sites.
“Overall, an estimated 14,293 cardiac procedures were not performed in April 2020 across the sites surveyed, which would have been completed within Oceania during this month (assuming March 2019 procedure rates).”
The study said the procedural volume reductions were in line with government-mandated lockdowns and prioritisation of health services during the pandemic as well as numerous COVID-19 guidelines and consensus statements.
However the future cardiac implications were as yet unknown.
“Care must be taken to avoid ignoring cardiac conditions while attention and resources are diverted to COVID-19, especially given the likelihood of the pandemic remaining for months or years to come.”
“Further assessment of resource utilisation during future spikes in COVID-19 cases within Oceania may prove to be critical.”
“Longer term evaluation will be important to assess if patient outcomes have been negatively affected by the reduction in services and deferral of usual modes of care,” the study concluded.