The association between coronary artery calcification and vectorcardiography in mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients: the Maastricht Intensive Care COVID cohort

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Aydeniz E., van Rosmalen F., de Kok J., Martens B., Mingels A. M. A., ÇANAKÇI M. E., ...More

INTENSIVE CARE MEDICINE EXPERIMENTAL, vol.12, no.1, 2024 (ESCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s40635-024-00611-0
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: No


Background Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is associated with poor outcome in critically ill patients. A deterioration in cardiac conduction and loss of myocardial tissue could be an underlying cause. Vectorcardiography (VCG) and cardiac biomarkers provide insight into these underlying causes. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a high degree of CAC is associated with VCG-derived variables and biomarkers, including high-sensitivity troponin-T (hs-cTnT) and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP). Methods Mechanically ventilated coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) patients with an available chest computed tomography (CT) and 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) were studied. CAC scores were determined using chest CT scans. Patients were categorized into 3 sex-specific tertiles: low, intermediate, and high CAC. Daily 12 leads-ECGs were converted to VCGs. Daily hs-cTnT and NT-proBNP levels were determined. Linear mixed-effects regression models examined the associations between CAC tertiles and VCG variables, and between CAC tertiles and hs-cTnT or NT-proBNP levels. Results In this study, 205 patients (73.2% men, median age 65 years [IQR 57.0; 71.0]) were included. Compared to the lowest CAC tertile, the highest CAC tertile had a larger QRS area at baseline (6.65 mu Vs larger [1.50; 11.81], p = 0.012), which decreased during admission (- 0.27 mu Vs per day [- 0.43; - 0.11], p = 0.001). Patients with the highest CAC tertile also had a longer QRS duration (12.02 ms longer [4.74; 19.30], p = 0.001), higher levels of log hs-cTnT (0.79 ng/L higher [0.40; 1.19], p < 0.001) and log NT-proBNP (0.83 pmol/L higher [0.30; 1.37], p = 0.002). Conclusion Patients with a high degree of CAC had the largest QRS area and higher QRS amplitude, which decreased more over time when compared to patients with a low degree of CAC. These results suggest that CAC might contribute to loss of myocardial tissue during critical illness. These insights could improve risk stratification and prognostication of patients with critical illness.