COVID-19 patients with a cluster of underlying health issues have an increased risk of death from the virus, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which occurs when someone has three out of the five conditions: high blood sugar, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and obesity.
Hospitalized coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome were more than three times more likely to die than those without it.
There were nearly five times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) or require a ventilator, the team, from Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, found.
A new study from Tulane University looked at hospitalized coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome, which occurs when someone has three out of the five conditions: high blood sugar, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and obesity. Pictured: EMS medics help a man with COVID-19 symptoms before transporting him to a hospital in Houston, August 14
Coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die and five times more likely to be admitted to the ICU or be placed on a ventilator. Pictured: An EMS medics helps a man with COVID-19 symptoms before transporting him to a hospital in Houston, August 14
Up to one-third of US adults currently have metabolic syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in the artery walls.
Researchers say metabolic syndrome also heightens the risk of more severe cases of coronavirus.
‘Together, obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictive of higher incidents of death in these patients,’ said lead author Dr Joshua Denson, assistant professor of medicine and pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at Tulane University School of Medicine.
‘The more of these diagnoses that you have, the worse the outcomes. The underlying inflammation that is seen with metabolic syndrome may be the driver that is leading to these more severe cases.’
For the study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, the team looked at 287 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center New Orleans between March 30 and April 5.
The most common conditions were hypertension, obesity and diabetes at 80 percent, 65 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Almost 66 percent had metabolic syndrome.
Researchers split patients into two groups – those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and those who were not – and tracked outcomes.
About 56 percent of metabolic syndrome coronavirus patients were admitted to the ICU and 48 percent required a ventilator.
By comparison, only 24 percent of patients without the syndrome were transferred to the ICU and 18 percent needed a ventilator.
Additionally, 26 percent of those with metabolic syndrome died compared to 10 percent without it.
After accounting for factors such as age, race and sex, the team found that patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die and five time more likely to be admitted to the ICU or be placed on a ventilator.
No increased risk of death was seen for patients who had one of the conditions as opposed to a cluster of them.
Denson said metabolic syndrome should be considered a predictor of deadly outcomes from coronavirus and that anyone with the condition should take
‘It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old – we took that into account,’ he said.
‘You really should be extra careful. I would say it should impact both preventing your exposures and, if you end up getting sick, you should probably see your doctor sooner.’