Older patients are known to be at higher risk for poor outcomes after infection with the coronavirus, but among those hospitalized with COVID-19, other characteristics help predict who is likely to do poorly, new data suggest.
In a review of data on 4,783 people age 65 and older who were hospitalized for COVID-19 early in the pandemic, researchers at Northwell Health hospitals in New York found that age itself did not independently predict whether a patient was more likely to die.
Instead, they reported this week in BMC Geriatrics, more important predictors of death for elderly patients were factors such as how independent they were before the infection, how sick they were when they arrived at the hospital, and their pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, lung disease and dementia.
The researchers noted that in facilities forced to ration care or facing resource shortages, some guidelines use advanced age as a reason to deny care.
“Our findings support the American Geriatrics Society position statement indicating age alone should never be used to make decisions regarding resource allocation under conditions of resource scarcity,” the researchers said. “Although age is still an important factor in the overall risk of COVID-19 mortality… a comprehensive approach that accounts for the above factors is essential in preventing ageism.”
Photo – Elderly people waiting for the administration of the vaccine at the vaccination center of Mostra d’Oltremare in Naples, Italy. EPA-EFE/CESARE ABBATE