24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
COVID Can Tear Through a Household: CDCU.S Coronavirus Cases Top 9 MIllionGrocery Workers at Greater Risk for COVID Without SymptomsWhat You Need to Know About the Search for a COVID VaccineNearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 Patients May Still Carry VirusTired, Anxious, Overweight: How Lockdowns May Have Harmed Your HealthEli Lilly Antibody Drug Could Prevent COVID Hospitalizations: StudyDeath Rates Are Dropping for New Yorkers With COVID-19 -- Why?Asymptomatic Kids With COVID-19 May Also Carry Less VirusYour Guide to Getting a COVID-19 TestFauci Calls for National Mask MandateSmog Could Increase COVID-19 Deaths by 15% WorldwidePatients With Worst COVID-19 May Be Best Plasma Donors: StudyWill Expelled Droplets Spread COVID? Ventilation May Be KeyPeople With Down Syndrome Face Higher Risk of Severe COVID-19Loss of Smell More Common in COVID-19 Than ThoughtPsoriasis Meds Don't Raise Risk of Severe COVID-19: StudyTrial of Antibody Drug for COVID-19 Stopped for Lack of EffectivenessKnee or Hip Replacements Cut People's Risk for Falls: StudyWhat Will It Take for People to Embrace a COVID Vaccine?Kidney Trouble Greatly Raises Odds for Fatal COVID-19More Evidence Masks Slow COVID's SpreadDangerous COVID-19 Syndrome First Seen in Kids Also Strikes AdultsFading Sense of Smell Could Signal Higher Death Risk in Older AdultsHospitals Straining Under Weight of Surging COVID Case CountsU.S. Daily COVID-19 Case Count Sets New Record for the PandemicAn Unexpected Finding on What Might Drive Joint DiseaseCoronavirus in a Cough: Tests Show Masks Stopping the SpreadU.S. Daily COVID Case Count Nears Record for PandemicCould Common Asthma Meds Weaken Bones?Mask Use by Americans Now Tops 90%, Poll FindsCOVID-19 More Common in Pregnant Hispanics Than Other Moms-to-Be: StudyMore Than Half of Americans Know Someone Infected or Ill With COVID: PollCDC Broadens Definition of 'Close Contact' in Tracing COVID InfectionsAHA News: The Mummies' Message: Take Steps Against Heart DiseasePancreas Cells That Drive Type 1 Diabetes Appear in Healthy People, TooOne Big Reason Women May Be Less Prone to COVID-19New Wave of COVID Infections Taking Hold in AmericaSmog Tied to Raised Risk for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's DiseaseWhat Will Convince Americans to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?Curbing COVID Brought Unexpected Benefit for Asthma Patients1 in 3 Americans With Arthritis Say Pain, Symptoms PersistCDC Recommends Face Masks in All Public Transportation SettingsIn Medieval Times, Plagues 'Sped Up' With Each New OutbreakWhat You Need to Know About Your Colon Cancer RiskNewer Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug May Help Ease Tough-to-Treat CasesCelebrate Autumn Traditions Without Raising Your COVID RiskNew Drug Could Extend Life for People With ALSHeart Defects Don't Increase Risk of Severe COVID-19Chinese COVID Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Blood Test Could Spot Those at Highest Risk for Severe COVID-19

HealthDay News
by By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 23rd 2020

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- If you're unfortunate enough to be admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, a common blood marker may predict how severe your illness might become, new research shows.

The blood marker is called "red cell distribution width" (RDW) -- basically, the greater the variance in the size of red blood cells, the poorer a patient's prognosis, the study authors explained.

A COVID-19 patient's RDW test result "was highly correlated with patient mortality, and the correlation persisted when controlling for other identified risk factors like patient age, some other lab tests and some pre-existing illnesses," said study co-author Dr. Jonathan Carlson, of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

The new study was published online Sept. 23 in JAMA Network Open and was led by Dr. John Higgins, a pathologist investigator at the hospital and associate professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.

"We wanted to help find ways to identify high-risk COVID patients as early and as easily as possible -- who is likely to become severely ill and may benefit from aggressive interventions, and which hospitalized patients are likely to get worse most quickly," Higgins said in a hospital news release.

To do so, they looked at blood tests for more than 1,600 adults diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection who'd been admitted to one of four Boston-area hospitals in March and April 2020.

Higgins and his team had expected that they might have to ferret out some obscure blood marker that might predict poor outcomes from COVID-19. But they quickly discovered that RDW -- already used in standard blood tests -- easily fit the bill.

In fact, patients whose RDW values were above the normal range when they were first admitted to the hospital had a risk of death that was 2.7 times that of patients whose test results were in the normal range, the researchers found. Overall, 31% of patients with above-normal RDW test results died, compared to 11% of those with normal RDW test results.

And if a patient's RDW rate was normal upon admission but then slowly began to rise to above-normal levels, that correlated with a rise in the patient's odds for death as well, the study found.

The next step for the Boston team is to discover why a high RDW score is tied to worse outcomes. "Such discoveries could point to new treatment strategies or identify better markers of disease severity," said study co-author Dr. Aaron Aguirre, an MGH cardiologist and critical care physician.

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato is chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, in New York City. Reading over the new study, she said that "although we know that advanced age and certain [health factors] such as diabetes and hypertension are associated with worse outcomes, there is still great variability of symptoms and severity within those groups."

A blood marker like RDW that could pinpoint at-risk patients would be very useful, Amato said.

Already, "an elevated RDW can be an indication of overall poor health" in any hospital patient, she noted. Knowing soon after hospital admission that a patient is or is not at a high risk of death, "we will be better at tailoring treatment in a scientific way, in order to give our patients the best possible outcomes," Amato said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.