Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the delivery of care for cardiovascular diseases in Latin America. However, the effect of the pandemic on the diagnostic cardiac procedure volumes has not been quantified. Objective: To assess (1) the COVID-19’s impact on Latin America cardiac diagnostic volumes and (2) determine its relationship with COVID-19 case incidence, and with social distancing measures.Methods: The International Atomic Energy Agency conducted a worldwide survey assessing changes in cardiac diagnostic volumes resulting from COVID-19. Cardiac iagnostic volumes were obtained from participating sites for March and April 2020 and compared to March 2019. Social distancing data were collected from Google COVID-19 community mobility reports and COVID-19 incidence per country from the Our World in Data.Results: Surveys were submitted from 194 centers performing cardiac diagnostic procedures, in 19 Latin American countries. Procedure volumes decreased 36% from March 2019 to March 2020, and 82% from March 2019 to April 2020. The greatest decreases occurred in echocardiogram stress tests (91%), exercise treadmill tests (88%) and CT calcium scores (87%) with slight variations between Latin American sub-regions. Changes in social distancing patterns (p<0.001) were more strongly associated with volume reduction than COVID-19 incidence (p=0.003). Conclusions: COVID-19 was associated with a significant reduction in cardiac diagnostic procedures in Latin America, more related to social distancing than to the COVID-19 incidence. A better balance and timing of social distancing measures and planning to maintain access to medical care is warranted during a pandemic surge, especially in high cardiovascular mortality regions.


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Cerci, R., Vitola , J., Paez, D., Bittencourt, M., Sierra-Galan, L., Carrascosa, P., Campisi, R., Gutierrez-Villamil, C., Peix, A., Chambers, D., Velez, M., Alvarado, C., Ventura, A., Maldonado, A., Castanos, A., Hirschfeld, C., Randazzo, M. & Williams, M. 2021, 'COVID-19’s Impact on the Diagnosis of Heart Disease in Latin America An INCAPS COVID Sub analysis', Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia, 2021, 118(4), pp. 745-753. https://doi.org/10.36660/abc.20210388

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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