As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed over the months, much attention has been drawn to the risk of increased morbidity and mortality due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection among the aged. However, the attention that younger patients have received as a vulnerable group within the population has been low. Now, a study has found that outcome of the disease among patients between the ages of 18 and 34 in the US are substantially adverse as well.
According to researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital, found that 2.7 percent of the patients among the age group died due to COVID-19. "There was a significant rate of adverse outcomes. Even though a 2.7 percent death rate is lower than for older patients, it's high for young people who typically do well even when hospitalized for other conditions," said Dr. Jonathan Cunningham, first author of the study.
Unignorable Death Rate Among Youngsters
For the study, the authors examined records from 419 hospitals utilizing the Premier Healthcare Database in order to investigate the clinical outcomes and trajectories of 3,222 patients aged 18-34 who were hospitalized due to COVID-19.
The analysis yielded startling results. It was found that over 21 percent (one-fifth) of the patients needed intensive care. While 10 percent required mechanical, 2.7 percent of the patients died. To emphasize the seriousness of the number of deaths, the authors compared to the death rate among individuals for the same age group who were hospitalized with heart attacks. The deaths among youngsters due to COVID-19 were nearly double that of heart attacks.
Racial Disproportion in Number of Deaths
Another key observation made by the team was that Black or Hispanic youngsters formed 57 percent of the younger patients admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19. This finding is consistent with other studies that have reported the unequal burden of the pandemic on these demographics.
In addition to these findings, the authors also discovered that the cardiovascular risk factors among hospitalized youngsters were also over-represented. 36.8 percent had obesity while 24.5 percent had morbid obesity. 18.2 percent of patients suffered from diabetes and 16.1 percent had hypertension. Patients found to present these comorbidities also had an increased likeliness of experiencing adverse outcomes.
Comorbidities Worsen Outcomes
Patients ailing with morbid obesity formed 41 percent of young adults who were hospitalized and required mechanical ventilation or died. Among individuals with over one of these conditions, the risk of suffering adverse outcomes was similar to that of those faced by middle-aged adults between 35-64 who had none of these conditions (as observed in another study of 8,862 participants).
"We know nothing about the total denominator of patients who got an infection. We think the vast majority of people in this age range have self-limited disease and don't require hospitalization. But if you do, the risks are really substantial," concluded Dr. Scott Solomon, corresponding author of the study.