Health

A Lung Doctor Explains How He Predicts Someone’s Risk of Dying from COVID

The way that coronavirus affects the body varies wildly from person to person, although we do know that being male, older, a smoker, and having Type A blood and co-morbidities such as heart disease and diabetes are all additional risk factors which can lead a COVID patient to have more severe illness.

But now doctors have a more specific way to determine who is more likely to to die during their hospitalization, based on patients’ blood work, which offers some insight into the probability that someone will develop a cytokine storm (a serious overreaction of the immune system).

In a new YouTube video, pulmonary medicine and critical care specialist Dr. Mike Hansen cites a recent study which determined a series of criteria for cytokine storm, including inflammation that can be seen on the chest, a ferritin level of more than 250 ng/ml, a CRP (C-reactive protein) level of more than 4.6 mg/dl, and an albumin level of less than 2.87 g/dl or lymphocytes less than 10.2 percent, or absolute neutrophil count of more than 11.

Patients who met all of the criteria tended to have an average hospital stay of 15 days, compared to an average of 6 days in patients who didn’t present the same criteria. Patients with these cytokine storm criteria were also 4 times likelier to die.

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“Most of the patients who met criteria for the cytokine storm did so at the time of admission or shortly after, and this suggests there’s an early and rapid progression in these patients,” says Hansen.

“It also suggests that there’s a low likelihood of developing cytokine storm after 10 days of hospitalization. So based on these specific lab parameters, this is how doctors can predict which patients are likely to die of COVID-19. And I do find that this study correlates with what I’ve seen in my own experience with hospitalized COVID patients.”

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