Blood tests ID covid patients most susceptible to rapid health deterioration and death…

Five “biomarkers” can alert docs to the need for aggressive, immediate treatment

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According to an article published in Future Medicine by George Washington Univ. researchers

Currently, physicians determine risk for COVID-19 health deterioration and death based on age and certain underlying medical conditions, like having an immunocompromised state, obesity, and heart disease.

People over the age of 65 and those with underlying conditions are typically less able to fight off any infection, not just COVID-19.

But coronavirus has proven deadly to scores of otherwise healthy, relatively young people too – and scientists are still not sure exactly why some COVID-19 patients quickly spiral downward and others have no symptoms at all.

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George Washington University (GW) researchers found five biomarkers, medical indicators found in the blood, associated with higher odds of clinical deterioration and death in COVID-19 patients.

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Specifically, GW researchers identified five biomarkers associated with inflammation and bleeding disorder in the blood of hundreds of COVID-19 patients, finding elevated levels associated with higher odds of ICU admission, invasive ventilatory support and death.

The critical biomarkers:

  • IL-6, which is short for interleukin 6, one of several cytokine immune cells that raises the alarm to other parts of the immune cell and can indicate out of control inflammation.
  • D-dimers, which are bits of degraded protein detectable in the blood after a clot disintegrates, and signal that the virus may be attacking blood vessels.
  • CRP, or C-reactive protein, which is released by the liver in response to inflammation.
  • LDH, or Lactate Dehydrogenase, an enzyme in lactic acid that the body sends to heal damaged tissues.
  • Ferritin, a protein that helps the body’s cells store iron. Iron in turn, is crucial for healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Too much or too little ferritin can signal anemia or an infection that’s impairing blood cell function.

Patients with higher levels any or all of these biomarkers were more likely to need to be treated in the ICU or put on ventilators.

The highest odds of death occurred when the LDH level was greater than 1200 units/l and a D-dimer level was greater than 3 μg/ml.

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Bottom line: Performing a simple blood test on COVID-symptomatic patients showing up at emergency rooms (or other point-of-care clinics) can quickly identify those needing the most aggressive immediate care.

Unfortunately, the biomarkers don’t foretell the likelihood of getting infected … they just give a clear measure of severity once infected.

That said, a hopeful step forward for effective therapeutic treatment.

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