This Blood Test Could Predict if COVID Could Kill You
Why do some people get sicker than others when infected with COVID-19? Since December 2019, when the first cases of coronavirus were identified in Wuhan, China, researchers have been struggling to learn why about 40% of the population remains asymptomatic and others end up to a hospital—and even lose their lives—as a result of the highly infectious virus. Currently, physicians use risk factors like age, underlying medical conditions, including an immunocompromised state, obesity, and heart disease, in order to determine the likelihood of a severe coronavirus infection. However, according to a group of researchers, identifying patients at risk of death could be as simple as analyzing a patient's blood.
Determined by Five Biomarkers
A new study courtesy of George Washington University published in Future Medicine suggests that five biomarkers in the blood, extracted with a blood test, could help predict which patients are at a higher risk of clinical deterioration and death.
"When we first started treating COVID-19 patients, we watched them get better or get worse, but we didn't know why," Juan Reyes, MD, co-author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, explained in a press release. "Some initial studies had come out of China showing certain biomarkers were associated with bad outcomes. There was a desire to see if that was true for our patients here in the U.S."
The researchers analyzed the blood of 299 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 admitted to GW Hospital between March and May, 200 of whom had all five biomarkers being evaluated – IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, LDH and ferritin. They found that elevated levels of these biomarkers were linked to inflammation and bleeding disorder, increasing their risk for ICU admission, invasive ventilatory support, and death. They even pinpointed the level at which the odds of death were the highest, when the LDH level was greater than 1200 units/l and a D-dimer level was greater than 3 μg/ml.
Researchers hope their findings will help physicians be able to predict outcomes for coronavirus patients, resulting in a more effective treatment protocol.
"We hope these biomarkers help physicians determine how aggressively they need to treat patients, whether a patient should be discharged, and how to monitor patients who are going home, among other clinical decisions," Shant Ayanian, MD, first author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, added.