Study identifies serious medical conditions linked to COVID-19

·3 min read

A newly published medical study has identified several life-threatening medical conditions that are "significantly associated" with COVID-19.

The study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal was done to identify and confirm potential complications, and previously unknown complications, associated with patients who had the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

The results of the study indicated that viral pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute kidney failure and sepsis as being among the conditions that showed strong association with COVID-19 with high absolute risk. The study said the results can be used to guide future prognosis (forecasting the likely course or outcome of a disease), treatment decisions and patient counselling.

The study said the results used data from United States health claims sourced from the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM).

The study looked at more than 70,000 COVID-19 patients. It said 69 of 1,724 ICD diagnosis codes were significantly associated with COVID-19 in the following manner:

-Viral pneumonia had an absolute risk greater than 27 per cent with a 95 per cent confidence interval;

-Respiratory failure had an absolute risk greater than 22 per cent with a confidence interval of 95 per cent;

-Acute kidney failure had an absolute risk greater than 11 per cent with a confidence interval of 95 per cent; and

-Sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by infection, was greater than 10 per cent with a 95 per cent confidence interval.

Other medical conditions that were found, but with lower risk factors, included myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), disseminated intravascular coagulation (blood clots) and pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

According to the study, as of Nov. 20 more than 50 million people have been diagnosed world-wide with COVID-19.

"The clinical spectrum of disease is wide and can range from symptoms typical of the common cold to respiratory failure and death," said the study.

It said while most patients have mild symptoms and can be managed as outpatients, as many as 20 per cent have a more severe form of COVID-19 and need to be admitted to the hospital.

The study also revealed that a wide variety of medical conditions have been associated with COVID-19, but many have not been well-established and do not provide risk estimates.

"The objective of our study was to analyze all diagnoses associated with COVID-19, to identify those that could be complications of the disease and to present both the absolute risk and relative odds of any complications identified," said the study.

Of the patients surveyed, the study showed 46 per cent were outpatients and 53 per cent were inpatients. The inpatients included nearly five per cent who were in intensive care. The distribution among males and females was mostly equal, except for the outpatients, where 59 per cent were female.

In conclusion, the study determined "Overall, the most common complications associated with COVID-19 among patients seeking medical care include pneumonia,

respiratory failure, kidney failure, and sepsis or systemic inflammation. After analyzing all possible diagnosis codes, we confirm that COVID-19 is also associated with a diverse array of additional cardiac, thrombotic and other conditions, although the overall risks for most of these complications are comparatively low.

"Understanding the full range of associated conditions can aid in prognosis, guide treatment decisions and better inform patients as to their actual risks for the variety of COVID-19 complications reported in the literature and media," said the study.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,