Impact of COVID-19 on Cardiovascular Testing in the United States Versus the Rest of the World

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15 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to quantify and compare the decline in volumes of cardiovascular procedures between the United States and non-U.S. institutions during the early phase of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the care of many non-COVID-19 illnesses. Reductions in diagnostic cardiovascular testing around the world have led to concerns over the implications of reduced testing for cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality. Methods: Data were submitted to the INCAPS-COVID (International Atomic Energy Agency Non-Invasive Cardiology Protocols Study of COVID-19), a multinational registry comprising 909 institutions in 108 countries (including 155 facilities in 40 U.S. states), assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on volumes of diagnostic cardiovascular procedures. Data were obtained for April 2020 and compared with volumes of baseline procedures from March 2019. We compared laboratory characteristics, practices, and procedure volumes between U.S. and non-U.S. facilities and between U.S. geographic regions and identified factors associated with volume reduction in the United States. Results: Reductions in the volumes of procedures in the United States were similar to those in non-U.S. facilities (68% vs. 63%, respectively; p = 0.237), although U.S. facilities reported greater reductions in invasive coronary angiography (69% vs. 53%, respectively; p < 0.001). Significantly more U.S. facilities reported increased use of telehealth and patient screening measures than non-U.S. facilities, such as temperature checks, symptom screenings, and COVID-19 testing. Reductions in volumes of procedures differed between U.S. regions, with larger declines observed in the Northeast (76%) and Midwest (74%) than in the South (62%) and West (44%). Prevalence of COVID-19, staff redeployments, outpatient centers, and urban centers were associated with greater reductions in volume in U.S. facilities in a multivariable analysis. Conclusions: We observed marked reductions in U.S. cardiovascular testing in the early phase of the pandemic and significant variability between U.S. regions. The association between reductions of volumes and COVID-19 prevalence in the United States highlighted the need for proactive efforts to maintain access to cardiovascular testing in areas most affected by outbreaks of COVID-19 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1787-1799
Number of pages13
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The INCAPS-COVID Investigators Group, listed by name in the Supplemental Appendix, thank cardiology and imaging professional societies worldwide for their assistance in disseminating the survey to their memberships. This group includes, alphabetically, but not limited to, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Arab Society of Nuclear Medicine, Australasian Association of Nuclear Medicine Specialists, Australia-New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine, Belgian Society of Nuclear Medicine, Brazilian Nuclear Medicine Society, British Society of Cardiovascular Imaging, Conjoint Committee for the Recognition of Training in CT Coronary Angiography Australia and New Zealand, Consortium of Universities and Institutions in Japan, Danish Society of Cardiology, Gruppo Italiano Cardiologia Nucleare, Indonesian Society of Nuclear Medicine, Japanese Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Moscow Regional Department of Russian Nuclear Medicine Society, Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine, Russian Society of Radiology, Sociedad Española de Medicina Nuclear e Imagen Molecular, Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, and Thailand Society of Nuclear Medicine. The authors also thank Olga Morozova for assistance with graphics.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Dr. Blankstein has previously received research support from Amgen and Astellas Inc. Dr. Ferencik has been previously supported by U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and American Heart Association; and is a consultant for Biograph, Inc. Dr. Nørgaard has previously received unrestricted institutional research grants from Siemens and HeartFlow. Dr. Maurovich-Horvat has been a shareholder of Neumann Medical Ltd. Dr. Einstein has previously received grants from NIH, International Atomic Energy Agency, Canon Medical Systems, Roche Medical Systems, WL Gore, and GE Health care; consultant for WL Gore; on the Speakers Bureau for Ionetix; has received travel/accommodations/meeting expenses from HeartFlow; and is a stockholder in Emergent BioSolutions Inc. All other authors have reported that they have no relationships relevant to the contents of this paper to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American College of Cardiology Foundation


  • COVID-19
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cardiovascular imaging
  • coronavirus
  • diagnostic cardiovascular procedure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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