The role of sex and inflammation in cardiovascular outcomes and mortality in COVID-19

Anum S. Minhas, Julie K. Shade, Sung Min Cho, Erin D. Michos, Thomas Metkus, Nisha A. Gilotra, Garima Sharma, Natalia Trayanova, Allison G. Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Higher mortality in COVID-19 in men compared to women is recognized, but sex differences in cardiovascular events are less well established. We aimed to determine the independent contribution of sex to stroke, myocardial infarction and death in the setting of COVID-19 infection. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a racially/ethnically diverse population. Clinical features, laboratory markers and clinical events were initially abstracted from medical records, with subsequent clinician adjudication. Results: Of 2060 patients, myocardial injury (32% vs 23%, p = 0.019), acute myocardial infarction (2.7% vs 1.6%, p = 0.114), and ischemic stroke (1.8% vs 0.7%, p = 0.007) were more common in men vs women. In-hospital death occurred in 160 men (15%) vs 117 women (12%, p = 0.091). Men had higher odds of myocardial injury (odds ratio (OR) 2.04 [95% CI 1.43–2.91], p < 0.001), myocardial infarction (1.72 [95% CI 0.93–3.20], p = 0.085) and ischemic stroke (2.76 [95% CI 1.29–5.92], p = 0.009). Despite adjustment for demographics and cardiovascular risk factors, male sex predicted mortality (HR 1.33; 95% CI:1.01–1.74; p = 0.041). While men had significantly higher markers of inflammation, in sex-stratified analyses, increase in interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, ferritin and d-dimer were predictive of mortality and myocardial injury similarly in both sexes. Conclusions: Adjusted odds of myocardial injury, ischemic stroke and all-cause mortality, but not myocardial infarction, are significantly higher in men compared to women with COVID-19. Higher inflammatory markers are present in men but associated similarly with risk in both men and women. These data suggest that adverse cardiovascular outcomes in men vs. women are independent of cardiovascular comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-131
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
StatePublished - Aug 15 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Death
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Myocardial injury
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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