As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) evolves, important information emerges, thanks to studies and analyses undertaken by scientists and health experts. With more data available based on patients in actual healthcare settings, scientists have more information on how the virus affects the body and who are at most risk of the disease.
Now, a team of researchers has found that people with hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease are more likely to die from COVID-19. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is titled, “Association of radiologic findings with mortality of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China”.
While it is known that older adults, especially those who are above 60, are at a higher risk of succumbing to the viral infection, the team from Central Hospital of Wuhan, Hubei province, China, confirmed that patients with comorbidities as revealed by computed tomography (CT) scans, were much more likely to die from the disease.
The team linked clinical features identified from CT scans of the lungs of patients with eventual outcomes. They used the CT score based on features they noted on the results, including glass opacity, abnormality on both sides of the lungs, and the widespread distribution of pathology in the lungs.
Association of radiologic findings with mortality of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Image Credit: Travel Faery / Shutterstock
In the retrospective study, the team recruited 27 patients who fulfilled the clinical criteria for COVID-19, who had developed pneumonia. The patients either recovered from the disease or had died in the hospital. The patients were diagnosed based on the positive results of the throat swab test.
All the patients underwent treatment with intravenous ribavirin 0.5 grams twice daily and oral oseltamivir 75 mg, two times a day. Some patients also had antibiotics, and some received glucocorticoid or immunoglobulin administration.
The patients also had CT scans to visualize their lungs, where the coronavirus wreaks havoc, causing inflammation.
The results of the study show that of the 27 patients, 12 were men and 15 were women. The median age of the patients was 60 years old. Of the 27 patients, 17 recovered and were discharged, while ten died in the hospital.
Comorbidities worsen COVID-19
They found that the median age of those who died was higher than those who recovered. The severity of COVID-19 grows higher as the age of the patient increases. Those who are more than 60 years old are at a higher risk of dying from the infection.
Meanwhile, the study also shows that patients with comorbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiac disease, are more likely to die from COVID-19. Eleven patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), while 10 of them died.
The team also found that there is no difference between males and females in terms of disease severity and death toll.
CT scan score
The team also found that those with higher CT scan scores, or those with severe manifestations based on the results of the CT scan, had a higher chance of dying from the illness. The most common features seen in CT scans include glass opacities, mixed with consolidations, peripheral, or combined peripheral and central distributions, bilateral, and lower lung zones involved.
The team found that the average score of those patients who died was 30, while those who recovered had a CT scan score of 12.
The team notes that the study permits the comparison of radiologic findings with the mortality of patients stricken with COVID-19.
“We hope the simple scoring method, according to CT scans, may help triage patients and screening patients who need more aggressive treatment and close monitoring. However, the efficacy of such an approach to decrease mortality remains to be validated in future studies,” the team wrote in the paper. They added that since the study only involved 27 patients, further and more extensive studies should be done for more accurate results.
Yuan, M., Yin, W., Tao, Z., Tan, W., and Hu, Y. (2020). Association of radiologic findings with mortality of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. PLOS ONE. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230548