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March 24, 2021

JAMA Cardiology—The Year in Review, 2020

Author Affiliations
  • 1Editor, JAMA Cardiology
  • 2Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Cardiol. 2021;6(6):619-620. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.0261

The tumultuous events of 2020 posed unprecedented challenges for scientific publishing, and the operations and priorities at JAMA Cardiology were no exception. Faced with a serious, novel virulent disease that emerged in January and February and quickly grew to pandemic proportions, the cardiovascular community witnessed disquieting evidence of its myriad cardiovascular ramifications. There was early evidence that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection not only created risks of severe complications in those with underlying chronic cardiac conditions but also that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and its inflammatory response also had unique effects on the myocardium, vascular endothelium, and the coagulation system—effects that are still being elucidated.1 In the midst of the surge in COVID-19 infections, the journal editors experienced our own surge in the form of a voluminous influx of manuscript submissions from around the world describing the epidemiology and pathobiology of COVID-19’s interface with the cardiovascular system, along with evolving insights into adverse outcomes and possible management strategies. We were tasked with teasing out those manuscripts from the hundreds of submissions that would be most informative and would allow us to publish breakthrough research and commentary related to COVID-19. At the same time, we were forced to adapt to the sudden realities of the COVID-19 era: workforce disruption, office closures, virtual meetings, and concerns of personal safety and the safety of family and colleagues. Amazingly, and thanks to the dedicated JAMA Network editorial and publishing staff (most of whom were working from home), we were able to sustain our weekly publication schedule and monthly podcasts, with numerous special ad hoc publications of COVID-19–related content of critical public health importance. We were thus able to have a strong voice in the evolving discussions of COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease.

Of course, our foremost thanks go to our authors and reviewers,2 whose valuable insights, guidance, and precious time allowed us to maintain our high editorial standard while also keeping to our publication schedule. We recognize that 2020 was an incredibly busy and complex year for everyone, yet these clinician-scientists found it possible to balance the academic mission against the intense demands of changing practice patterns and the need to care for successive waves of seriously ill patients. They are the true heroes.

The yearly publication data for 2020 are shown in the Table.3-8 Our total submissions of 3683 manuscripts represent a 58% increase compared with 2019, and the 2847 original research manuscript submissions represent a 54% increase. Our overall acceptance rate was 9% (5% for research submissions). We received 910 manuscripts related to COVID-19 (25% of the total); if these are excluded from the analysis, our overall submissions increased 19% compared with 2019. This is in keeping with the steady increase in submissions that we have experienced in previous years. We remain a global journal with 64.6% of our submissions arriving from outside the US.

Table.  JAMA Cardiology Statistics for 2020
JAMA Cardiology Statistics for 2020

JAMA Cardiology had a further increase in impact factor to 12.8 in 2020 (which is reported for the year 2019). This continuous flow of manuscripts has increased the workload of our very busy editors, but we relish the new knowledge and opinions that we read, evaluate, and discuss on a weekly basis. We continue to learn from each other, our authors, our talented peer reviewers, and our colleagues around the world.

Our weekly online content is now delivered to more than 70 000 readers, with more than 4 million total article views and downloads this past year, which have doubled since 2019. We maintain an active presence on social media, with an increase during the past year to more than 84 000 Twitter and Facebook followers. Our section on cardiovascular images has been particularly notable online and on social media. Our monthly podcast discussions with authors remain highly popular; 2 of these podcasts in 2020 were related to COVID-19: a discussion on myocardial injury9 and a discussion on return to play for athletes following COVID-19 infection.10 The close linkage of our journal to JAMA and the other JAMA Network journals connects us to the dedicated editorial and publication staff who facilitate the dissemination of our weekly and monthly content in print and through multimedia channels.

Our content continues to attract considerable attention in the news media, which has been particularly the case for COVID-19–related content. Articles published in JAMA Cardiology in 2020 received mention in more than 10 000 reports, including such major sources as The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, CNN, and ESPN.

It is not unexpected that the published articles with the highest numbers of views,3-5 Altmetric scores (measures of news and social media coverage),3,6,7 and citations in 20205,7,8 were reports on COVID-19 and the heart (Table). Most notable were the seminal findings of Puntmann et al3 demonstrating myocardial tissue abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with associated elevation of circulating troponin levels in individuals who were imaged a median of 71 days following recovery of acute COVID-19 infection. All patients had negative COVID-19 test results at the time of study. In addition to the high Altmetric score, this study received more than 870 000 page views and 128 citations since publication. In keeping with those MRI findings, Rajpal et al6 reported MRI abnormalities compatible with myocarditis in 4 of 26 college athletes following recovery from COVID-19 infection, with evidence of healed myocardial fibrosis in another 8 athletes. This study published online in 2020 has thus far received more than 174 000 page views and 20 citations. Both of these MRI studies of individuals following recovery of COVID-19 require further confirmation as well as longer-term follow-up to determine whether these imaging abnormalities will translate into clinical sequelae. Shi et al7 from Wuhan province, China, were among the first to report evidence of myocardial damage with elevated troponin levels in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, with observations of greater in-hospital mortality rates in those with myocardial injury. This study received more than 192 000 page views and 701 citations in 2020. In the same issue, a case report by Inciardi et al5 from Brescia, Italy, which was among the first to show MRI evidence of myocarditis in a hospitalized patient, received 202 519 page views and 340 citations in 2020 and currently has an Altmetric score of 1025.

The deputy and associate editors of JAMA Cardiology have forged a strong and cohesive team, which has become stronger during the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. The editors are all busy, multitalented people who have added this additional commitment to their otherwise very full professional and personal lives. We collectively spend countless hours critiquing manuscripts, communicating with authors and reviewers, and making the editorial decisions that create our content for publication. Of equal importance, the editorial team provides the strategic vision of the journal as we enter our sixth year of publication. Our goal is to select the most novel, innovative, and thought-provoking articles of greatest interest to our readership and greatest potential to influence the future directions of our discipline.

We look forward to maintaining the momentum and growth that have quickly positioned us among the premier cardiovascular journals. The contributions of our authors remain our most important ingredient, and it is their impactful work that allows JAMA Cardiology to contribute to the advances in cardiovascular science. It is also fitting to once more express sincere thanks to our many colleagues who as peer reviewers have critiqued and refined our manuscripts.2 Finally, it is our hope that the world will achieve a degree of safety and normalcy in 2021 that will result in greater security and productivity for all.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Robert O. Bonow, MD, MS, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 676 N St Clair St, Ste 600, Chicago, IL 60611 (robert.bonow@nm.org).

Published Online: March 24, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.0261

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Bonow  RO, O’Gara  PT, Yancy  CW.  Cardiology and COVID-19.   JAMA. 2020;324(12):1131-1132. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.15088PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
 JAMA Cardiology peer reviewers in 2020.   JAMA Cardiol. Published online March 24, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.0151Google Scholar
Puntmann  VO, Carerj  ML, Wieters  I,  et al.  Outcomes of cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging in patients recently recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).   JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(11):1265-1273. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3557PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Madjid  M, Safavi-Naeini  P, Solomon  SD, Vardeny  O.  Potential effects of coronaviruses on the cardiovascular system: a review.   JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):831-840. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1286PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Inciardi  RM, Lupi  L, Zaccone  G,  et al.  Cardiac involvement in a patient with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).   JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):819-824. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1096PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Rajpal  S, Tong  MS, Borchers  J,  et al.  Cardiovascular magnetic resonance findings in competitive athletes recovering from COVID-19 infection.   JAMA Cardiol. Published online September 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.4916PubMedGoogle Scholar
Shi  S, Qin  M, Shen  B,  et al.  Association of cardiac injury with mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.   JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):802-810. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.0950PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Guo  T, Fan  Y, Chen  M,  et al.  Cardiovascular implications of fatal outcomes of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).   JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):811-818. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1017PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Interview with Robert O. Bonow, Patrick T. O’Gara, Clyde W. Yancy, and Gregg C. Fonarow, authors of “Association of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Myocardial Injury and Mortality,” and Ajay J. Kirtane. JAMA Cardiol. March 27, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://edhub.ama-assn.org/jn-learning/audio-player/18361843
Interview with Aaron L. Baggish and Jonathan H. Kim, authors of “COVID-19 and the Athletic Heart: Emerging Perspectives on Pathology, Risks, and Return-to-Play,” and James E. Udelson, author of “Return to Play for Athletes After Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection—Making High-Stakes Recommendations as Data Evolve.” JAMA Cardiol. October 26, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://edhub.ama-assn.org/jn-learning/audio-player/18555008