Inflammation during hospitalization for an initial COVID-19 episode is associated with an increased risk for 12-month mortality, according to a study published online May 12 in Frontiers in Medicine.
Arch G. Mainous III, Ph.D., from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues analyzed electronic health records for patients from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021, for COVID-19-positive hospitalized adults. A total of 1,207 patients were followed for 12 months post-COVID-19 to examine the association between systemic inflammation and 12-month mortality risk.
The researchers found that elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) was associated with other indicators of the severity of COVID-19 hospitalization such as supplemental oxygen and intravenous dexamethasone. There was an association seen for elevated CRP with increased mortality risk after COVID-19 recovery. When CRP was split into high and low groups at the median, this effect persisted in unadjusted and adjusted analyses (hazard ratios, 1.60 and 1.61, respectively). Oral steroid prescriptions at discharge were associated with a reduced risk for death postdischarge (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.49).
“When someone has a cold or even pneumonia, we usually think of the illness being over once the patient recovers. This is different from a chronic disease, like congestive heart failure or diabetes, which continue to affect patients after an acute episode. We may similarly need to start thinking of COVID-19 as having ongoing effects in many parts of the body after patients have recovered from the initial episode,” Mainous said in a statement. “Once we recognize the importance of ‘long COVID’ after seeming ‘recovery,’ we need to focus on treatments to prevent later problems, such as strokes, brain dysfunction, and especially premature death.”