Coronavirus Roundup: First CDC Study of U.S. Patients; Underlying Health Issues; and the Ibuprofen Debate

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March 20, 2020


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First U.S. Study of COVID-19 Patients Confirms Older Patients at Highest Risk, CDC Says

In a new report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that — as in other countries — the elderly carry the highest risk of dying and of being hospitalized from the Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19.

Since the December breakout of COVID-19 in China, public health officials worldwide have said that adults 60 and older and those with underlying health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and lung disease, are most at risk.

But younger adults are requiring hospitalizations as well, according to the study of nearly 2,500 of the first coronavirus cases in the U.S. , with 705 of the cases being aged 20 to 44. Between 15 percent and 20 percent of those young adults ended up in the hospital, and of those about 4 percent needed intensive care.

This first preliminary study of COVID-19 patients in the United States indicates that fatality was highest in persons aged 85 and older, ranging from 10 percent to 27 percent — followed by 3 percent to 11 percent among persons aged 65–84 years; 1 percent to 3 percent among persons aged 55-64 years; less than 1 percent among persons aged 20–54 years; and no fatalities among persons aged 19 or younger.

Among all of the 2,449 COVID-19 patients that were part of the CDC study:

  • 6 percent were aged 85 or older.
  • 25 percent were aged 65–84 years.
  • 18 percent each were aged 55–64 years and 45–54 years.
  • 29 percent were aged 20–44 years.
  • 5 percent of cases occurred in persons aged 0–19 years.

The CDC report did not say whether patients of any age had underlying risk factors, such as heart disease or a compromised immune system.

Among 508 (12 percent) patients in the study known to have been hospitalized:

  • 9 percent were aged 85 or older.
  • 26 percent were aged 65–84 years.
  • 17 percent were aged 55–64 years.
  • 18 percent were 45–54 years.
  • 20 percent were aged 20–44 years.
  • Less than 1 percent of hospitalizations were among persons aged 19 years or younger.

Study: Nearly All of Italy’s Coronavirus Fatalities had at Least One Underlying Health Issue

Those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the elderly and adults with underlying chronic issues, including heart disease and high blood pressure. A new study out of Italy soundly confirms this trend.

More than 99 percent of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were adults who had pre-existing edical conditions, according to a study by the country’s Rome-based national health authority.

Researchers looked at the medical records of about 18 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three underlying health conditions, and about a quarter had either one or two previous medical issues.

More than 75 percent had high blood pressure, about 35 percent had diabetes and about one-third suffered from heart disease.

The median age of the those infected in Italy is 63. But the average age of those who’ve died from the virus in that country is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from COVID-19. Italy’s public health officials said that all victims under 40 have been males with serious underlying health issues.


Is Taking Ibuprofen Safe for Coronavirus Patients? Ask Your Doctor.

Some headlines and social media theories have suggested that taking ibuprofen, the widely available, over-the-counter NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) can worsen symptoms of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Health experts say there is currently no credible scientific evidence to support that concern.

In a statement, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stated that “more research is needed to evaluate reports that ibruprofen may affect the course of COVID-19.” For now, there is “no evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of serious complications or of acquiring the virus that causes COVID-19,” the statement said.

The World Health Organization told NBC News it’s “gathering evidence” on the topic, but “after a rapid review of the literature, is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic.”

Nonetheless, consult your doctor about taking ibuprofen, which can treat fever and mild to moderate pain. Other over-the-counter products can help reduce a fever, which is one of the more common COVID-19 symptoms. One of those includes acetaminophen — an analgesic which treats minor aches and pains, and also treats fever. Acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol. Advil, also known as ibuprofen, is an over-the-counter NSAID, as is aspirin.

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