New research led by the University of Birmingham revealed for the first time the extent to which the risk of mortality in weakness increases COVID-19 patients.
The clinical observation study, which involved 5,711 patients with COVID-19 at 55 hospitals in 12 countries, found that people with COVID-19 had very severely debilitated people die than those who were not debilitated, even if their age was taken into account. It has also been found that those with severe weaknesses who survive the virus are seven times more likely to need increased care at home or in care homes.
The Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative (GeMRC) – the group of experts behind the study – is now calling for improved global public health policies after their research showed that fragility, independent of age, increases the risk of COVID-19.
Weakness is a condition where the body becomes more vulnerable to the effects of disease. It is identified by clinicians using a holistic assessment that takes into account how much support the person needs from others in their daily lives before he or she becomes ill – not just their medical problems, but the person as a whole. The risk of fragility increases as we age, but it can develop at different ages.
Senior author dr. Carly Welch, clinical research fellow in geriatric medicine at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Aging, and chair and co-founder of GeMRC, said: ‘It was identified very early in the pandemic that age is a major risk factor for a greater chance of death with Covid-19.
‘However, not all older people are the same, our older ones are all different – some people can live into the 90s without being weak, and it can develop even without the presence of other long-term conditions.
“Our findings are important because we were able to show that not only the elderly, but also the weak, independent of each other, increase the risk of death due to COVID-19, and also the increasing need for care for survivors.”
Dr Daisy Wilson, Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, added: “We now have evidence to show that those at greatest risk of COVID-19 are those who are older, or living with weakness or have underlying health conditions. “
GeMRC hopes that the research findings will influence the health policy of the public, including advice on protection and recommendations for prioritizing vaccination for those with defective problems.
Dr Mary Ni Lochlainn, from King’s College London, added: “We hope this research will help ensure a better understanding of weakness as separate from age, and that weakness along with age can be considered in policy inside and outside the hospital.
“Increased understanding of weakness in the general public will enable improved communication between clinicians, patients and their family members or caregivers, and can be used to reflect on how we ensure that the right treatment is given to all patients in accordance with their wishes. . “
The research, conducted today (February 5) in Age and aging and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is the largest international study to date.
The results also showed that delirium – a state of mind and extremely common in patients with COVID-19 – is not independently associated with an increased risk of death.
Meanwhile, the findings also showed an increased likelihood of transitioning to a higher level of care upon discharge from the hospital for the COVID-19 patients with increasing problems with age, fragility, delirium, dementia, and mental health.
Further research is encouraged to understand what factors influence the restoration of physical function and quality of life with COVID-19, and the inclusion of older adults with weakness in such research is of paramount importance.
Reference: “Age and fragility are independently associated with increased COVID-19 mortality and increased care needs in survivors: results of an international multicenter study” by Wilson et al., February 5, 2021, Age and aging.
DOI: 10.1093 / aging / afab026