A University College London-led meta-analysis reveals that patients with existing breathing illness involving shortness of breath, wheezing or lung problems face far more danger with the development of a severe case of COVID-19 infection due to the new coronavirus. Moreover, the UK-based study revealed that dyspnea (shortness of breath) is the one symptom of COVID-19 that is significantly associated with hospitalization and admission to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Although not peer reviewed and published directly on the MedRxiv scientific study site, these findings imply that certain preexisting health conditions are associated with high risk complications in patients infected with COVID-19. For example, existing patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) face the gravest risk associated with a severe COVID-19 case among those hospitalized.
As of March 19, 2020, there are 219,058 cases with 8,939 deaths worldwide. The United States now has a reported 9,415 cases according to the Coronavirus Resource Center from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
The study was led by University of College London (UCL) Institute of Global Health’s Vageesh Jain who suggests that the findings from the study point to a way of directing medical professionals and public health decision makers identifying and mitigating risk—e.g. those who have COPD are at least one group that need attention immediately in a triage situation.
The study, led by the United Kingdom’s UCL, actually grouped and aggregated the results of seven Chinese studies, including 1,813 patients all hospitalized due to confirmed COVID-19 cases as the basis or the data to apply the pooled analysis. It turned out that those patients struggling with shortness of breath faced 3.7 higher probability to fall for severe COVID-19 disease and 6.6. times more likely to require intensive care than those patients that did not have any pre-existing breathing issues.
Patient with COPD face far greater risk when it comes to COVID-19. For example, at least when it comes to this sampling of patient data in China, they were 17.8 times more likely to find themselves admitted into the intensive care unit. Study lead Jain noted, “Whilst dyspnea was not particularly common symptom in COVID-19 patients, its significant association with both severe disease and ICU admission may help clinicians discriminate between severe and non-severe COVID-19 cases.”
Vageesh Jain, Institute for Global Health, University College London
Jin-Min Yuan, Public Health, London Boroughs of Camden & Islington
Call to Action: Read the source study and connect with the authors of the meta-analysis to learn more.