News – Chicago, IL A new Northwestern Medicine study published in GeroScience sought to determine the prevalence, risk factors, and significance of sustained viral excretion in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The Northwestern Medicine Neuro COVID-19 research team found that patients who continued to test positive more than 14 days after their first positive test were more likely to experience delirium, longer hospital stays, were less likely to be discharged home, and had a greater six-month mortality than those without sustained viral excretion of COVID-19.
The study included all patients who needed hospitalization due to COVID-19 throughout Northwestern medicine health system between March and August 2020. Of the 2,518 patients admitted during that period, 959 underwent COVID-19 repeat tests at least 14 days after the first test, and 405 of these patients (42%) were found to have have persistent viral excretion.
In the persistent excretion group:
- 54% of the patients were men
- 56% experienced delirium in the hospital, the primary neurological complication of acute COVID-19
- Less likely to be discharged to the home from the hospital
- 15% of patients died within six months
- Common comorbidities were diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and increased BMI
“This study is one of the first to inform the care of patients who continue to test positive for COVID-19,” he said. Ayush Batra, MD, a neurocritical care specialist in Northwestern Medicine who treats COVID-19 patients and co-authored the study. “We were fascinated to see the strong and large association between persistent viral excretion and prolonged post-hospital mortality, even after adjusting for age, severity of respiratory dysfunction, and the presence of delirium. This suggests that the presence of persistent Positive RT-PCR tests have important clinical implications for patients. “
“These patients were much more likely to have been delirium while hospitalized, even after adjusting for other factors that put patients at risk for delirium. This is an important finding because many studies, even before the COVID-19 pandemic , suggests that patients who are wildly ill during hospitalization are more likely to have long-term cognitive problems and may experience accelerated cognitive decline with aging. -19, “he said Eric Liotta, MDa neurocritical care specialist in Northwestern Medicine who treats COVID-19 patients and co-authored the study.
The strong association between prolonged viral excretion and experiencing delirium also suggests that studies are needed to investigate whether prolonged viral excretion is related to neurological symptoms in COVID-19 transporters. To date has Northwestern Medicine Neuro COVID-19 Clinic has treated more than 1,400 patients with neurological long-tail symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and loss of taste and smell.
For more information, visit nm.org.
B-ROLL, PICTURES, STUDY PDF AND SOUNDBITES FROM DR. AYUSH BATRA: