Acute heart failure (HF) is an important complication of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and has been hypothesized to relate to inflammatory activation.
We evaluated consecutive intensive care unit (ICU) admissions for COVID-19 across 6 centers in the Critical Care Cardiology Trials Network, identifying patients with vs. without acute HF. Acute HF was sub-classified as “de novo” vs. “acute-on-chronic” based on the absence or presence of prior HF. Clinical features, biomarker profiles, and outcomes were compared.
Among 901 COVID-19 ICU admissions, 80 (8.9%) had acute HF, including 18 (2.0%) with classic cardiogenic shock (CS) and 37 (4.1%) with vasodilatory CS. The majority (n=45) were de novo HF presentations. Compared to patients without acute HF, those with acute HF had higher cardiac troponin (cTn) and natriuretic peptides, and similar inflammatory biomarkers; patients with de novo HF had the highest cTn. Notably, among critically ill patients with COVID-19, illness severity (median SOFA, 8 [IQR, 5-10] vs. 6 [4-9]; p=0.025) and mortality (43.8% vs. 32.4%; p=0.040) were modestly higher in patients with vs. without acute HF.
Among critically ill COVID-19 patients, acute HF is distinguished more by biomarkers of myocardial injury and hemodynamic stress than by biomarkers of inflammation.

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