A large, comprehensive study into the most significant risk factors for COVID-19 mortality has identified multiple important factors involved with increasing the risk of death after infection. The study analyzed nearly 66,646 hospitalized patients across the USA and was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on the 18th December.
With variables such as gender, high blood pressure with chronic complications, diabetes with chronic complications and obesity making the top rankings, the researchers hope the information can be used to understand which patients are most at risk in the midst of soaring COVID-19 case numbers.
"Predicting which hospitalized COVID-19 patients have the highest risk of dying has taken on urgent importance as cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. continue to surge to record high numbers during the month of December," said study corresponding author Anthony D. Harris, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UMSOM, in a statement.
"Knowledge is power in many ways, so I think understanding which hospitalized COVID-19 patients are at highest risk of mortality can help guide difficult treatment decisions."
The study involved looking at patients in 613 U.S hospitals and comparing their infection outcome with any pre-existing health conditions, their age and their gender. As expected, age remains the greatest predictor of mortality, with each decade of life increasing the danger. Patients aged 80 and over carry a 34% increased risk, further reinforcing the vulnerability of the older populations.
Alongside this, the researchers also found that simply being male increased the risk of dying to COVID-19 by 30% across all age groups, which is in line with previous research that found males had greater mortality after infection. They also discovered that pre-existing conditions, including diabetes with chronic complications (meaning the patient suffers severe issues as a result of the condition), hypertension with chronic complications and obesity, all were large risk factors across most age groups. However, these conditions peaked in risk for 20-39 year-olds, raising mortality significantly compared to their healthy peers.
There is some good news for people with these conditions, though. In patients with diabetes and hypertension that did not suffer from chronic complications, their risk of COVID-19 mortality was not significantly increased. Therefore, as long as the condition is well-managed and doesn’t come with serious health issues, COVID-19 should not impact you any differently.
As harrowing as it may sound, with many hospitals running out of emergency beds across the U.S, data like this may be required to start prioritizing patient treatment. As the researchers explain, lifesaving drugs such as remdesivir may be allocated early into hospitalization to patients with chronic pre-existing conditions, obesity or older age to increase their chances of survival.
Previous studies have analyzed risk factors and found similar results, with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health even creating an online calculator that can determine your own personal risk.
The study arrived alongside a record day of COVID-19 cases in the U.S, with nearly 250,000 new cases added on Friday. With both cases and deaths still rising, it is predicted the worst is yet to come and hopes are high for the rapid roll-out of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioTech vaccines that have begun over the past month.
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