In a new study published on the preprint server medRxiv*, researchers describe failures of the French healthcare system as reflected by increased hospitalizations due to certain acute cardiovascular diseases in 2021, which was coincident with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

French study on cardiovascular disease incidence during COVID pandemic and vaccination campaign

Throughout the world, cardiovascular disease remain the leading cause of death among men and women. Although COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system, it is also associated with several non-pulmonary consequences, including effects on the cardiovascular system. Although rare, COVID-19 vaccines have been associated with cardiovascular manifestations. For example, the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccine was found to induce myocarditis in some individuals, whereas vector-based vaccine caused thrombotic thrombocytopenia in rare instances.

In France, cardiovascular disease were the second most common cause of hospitalization in 2019. After the initial detection of COVID-19 in January 2020, France faced a shortage of healthcare management services. Three lockdowns were subsequently implemented between March 2020 to May 2021 to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the burden on healthcare services. The current retrospective cohort study analyzed variations in the incidence of cardiovascular disease pre- and post-COVID-19 in France. This analysis also considered the ways in which COVID-19 vaccination may have altered incident case rates.

The French National Uniform Hospital Data Set Database (PMSI) provided data from 2019-2021, with 2019 considered as the reference year. COVID-19 vaccination data were acquired from the French Ministry of Solidarity and Healthcare web portal. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and related health problems, 10th revision (ICD10) codes were used to identify cardiovascular pathologies, with a primary focus on inflammatory and thromboembolic processes.

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