We examine how emergency department (ED) visits for serious cardiovascular conditions evolved in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic over January-October 2020, compared to 2019, in a large sample of U.S. EDs.
We compared 2020 ED visits before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, relative to 2019 visits in 108 EDs in 18 states in 115,716 adult ED visits with diagnoses for five serious cardiovascular conditions: ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), ischemic stroke (IS), hemorrhagic stroke (HS), and heart failure (HF). We calculated weekly ratios of ED visits in 2020 to visits in 2019 in the pre-pandemic (Jan 1-March 10), early-pandemic (March 11-April 21), and later-pandemic (April 22-October 31) periods.
ED visit ratios show that NSTEMI, IS, and HF visits dropped to lows of 56%, 64%, and 61% of 2019 levels, respectively, in the early-pandemic and gradually returned to 2019 levels over the next several months. HS visits also dropped early pandemic period to 60% of 2019 levels, but quickly rebounded. We find mixed evidence on whether STEMI visits fell, relative to pre-pandemic rates. Total adult ED visits nadired at 57% of 2019 volume during the early-pandemic period and have only party recovered since, to approximately 84% of 2019 by the end of October 2020.
We confirm prior studies that ED visits for serious cardiovascular conditions declined early in the COVID-19 pandemic for NSTEMI, IS, HS, and HF, but not for STEMI. Delays or non-receipt in ED care may have led to worse outcomes.

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