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Risk for Subsequent SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Severe COVID-19 Among Community-Dwellers With Pre-Existing Cervicocephalic Atherosclerosis: A Population-Based Study.

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Abstract
COVID-19 patients may develop atherosclerosis-related complications. Whether a proportion of these patients already had asymptomatic cervicocephalic atherosclerosis before SARS-CoV-2 infection is not known. This study assessed whether pre-existing cervicocephalic atherosclerosis increased the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection or resulted in more severe or fatal COVID-19. Individuals enrolled in the Atahualpa Project cohort who received head CT (for assessing carotid siphon calcifications) and B-mode ultrasounds (for measurement of the carotid intima-media thickness) prior to the pandemic were eligible for this study. Among this cohort, those who also received serological tests for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and clinical evaluations for assessment of COVID-19 severity were enrolled. Multivariate logistic regression and exposure-effect models were fitted to assess the association between pre-existing atherosclerosis biomarkers, and SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and COVID-19 severity. Overall, 154 of 519 study participants (30%) had evidence of cervicocephalic atherosclerosis. A total of 325 (63%) individuals became SARS-CoV-2 positive, and 65 (23.5%) of seropositive individuals had severe or fatal COVID-19. The risk of SARS-CoV-2 seropositive status did not differ across individuals with and without atherosclerosis biomarkers (P = .360). Likewise, seropositive individuals with pre-existing atherosclerosis were not more prone to develop severe or fatal COVID-19 than those without evidence of atherosclerosis (P = .274). Average estimated exposure effects of pre-existing cervicocephalic atherosclerosis versus no atherosclerosis over SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and COVID-19 severity were not significant. Pre-existing cervicocephalic atherosclerosis does not increase the risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection nor the severity of COVID-19 among seropositive individuals.
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COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, cervicocephalic atherosclerosis, population-based study, risk factors
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