The following is a summary of “Electrocardiographic abnormalities in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia and raised interleukin-6” published in the October 2022 issue of Primary Care by Kaeley et al.

In individuals with COVID-19 infection, cardiac damage was linked to increased mortality. The underlying cardiovascular problems can be identified by electrocardiographic alterations. Heart failure, arrhythmia, and coronary artery disease are all linked to increased inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 (IL-6). Previous research, however, did not specifically point out electrocardiographic anomalies in individuals with COVID-19 infection and elevated IL-6 levels. For a study, researchers sought to compare the electrocardiogram (ECG) alterations in COVID-19 individuals with high and low IL-6 levels.

A retrospective ECG study of 306 COVID-19-infected individuals was performed; 250 of these patients had normal IL-6 levels, whereas 56 had elevated IL-6 levels. All of the patients had their IL-6 levels checked. The hospital record portion had a detailed clinicodemographic profile of every serial COVID-19 patient hospitalized with mild to severe COVID-19 pneumonia. The electrocardiographic and biochemical results of each patient were recorded.

In contrast to 177 (70.8%) of the patients with normal IL-6 levels, 41 (73.2%) of the 56 patients with elevated IL-6 levels had abnormal ECGs. Statistics did not support this difference. However, individuals with elevated IL-6 levels had a much higher prevalence of ECG abnormalities than those with normal levels, such as sinus tachycardia. Five (16.6%) of the patients with elevated IL-6 levels who were discharged had sinus tachycardia, 2 (6.6%) had ST/T wave alterations as opposed to 15 (57.6%), and 10 (38.4%) of the patients with tachycardia and ST/T wave change respectively died. The difference was statistically significant.

In patients with COVID-19 infection and elevated IL-6, sinus tachycardia is frequently followed by atrial fibrillation and right bundle branch block on the electrocardiogram. Further research should be done to determine whether elevated IL-6 levels and COVID-19 infection are related in any way to cardiac injury in patients.