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How do people die at COVID-19?
COVID-19 diseases caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can be very mild, but can also be fatal. A current study has now investigated which factors may play a role in people with fatal disease. Various common characteristics have been discovered in many deaths.
The latest investigation by the Chinese PLA General Hospital identified the common similarities that occur in people who died in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Most common characteristics in COVID-19 deaths
For the study, the most common characteristics were identified in 85 people who died of COVID-19 in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The investigation was based on the analysis of the electronic health data of patients with COVID-19 who died despite treatment in two hospitals in Wuhan.
Men over 50 years of age particularly at risk from chronic diseases
Most of the deaths in the study concerned men over the age of 50 with non-communicable chronic diseases, the researchers report. The results show that the risk group of men over the age of 50 with chronic comorbid diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease and diabetes are particularly at risk, reports the research team.
72.9 percent of the deceased were men
The researchers analyzed the medical records of 85 deceased people and collected information on their medical history, exposure to the coronavirus, additional chronic diseases, symptoms, laboratory findings, CT scan results and clinical treatment. The mean age of the deceased was 65.8 years and 72.9 percent of them were men. Her most common symptoms included fever, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and fatigue.
Very low levels of eosinophils
Hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease were the most common comorbidities, the researchers report. Slightly more than 80.0 percent of the people taking part showed very low values of eosinophils (certain cells of the immune system) when ingested.
Common complications included respiratory failure, shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and abnormal heart rhythms. Most patients received antibiotics, antivirals and glucocorticoids (types of steroids). Some also received intravenous immunoglobulin or interferon alpha-2b.
Affected people died an average of 6.35 days after admission to the hospital
According to the researchers, no clear conclusions can be drawn from the current study regarding the effectiveness of drugs such as antiviral or immunosuppressive agents against COVID-19. Perhaps the most significant observation in the study is that airway symptoms do not develop until a week after infection. However, the study can show a rapid deterioration, as shown by the short period between hospital admission and the subsequent death (6.35 days on average).
How did the majority of the participants die?
In view of the new findings, so-called eosinophilopenia (abnormally low levels of eosinophils in the blood) can be assessed as an indication of a severe course of the disease. The researchers also found that early onset of shortness of breath can be used as an observation symptom for COVID-19. They also found that a combination of antimicrobial drugs (antivirals, antibiotics) did not help these patients significantly. The majority of the infected people examined died of multiple organ failure. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Yingzhen Du, Lei Tu, Pingjun Zhu, Mi Mu, Runsheng Wang et al .: Clinical Features of 85 Fatal Cases of COVID-19 from Wuhan: A Retrospective Observational Study, in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Published April 3, 2020 ), American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine