Arch G. Mainous III, Benjamin J. Rooks, Velyn Wu, Frank A. Orlando: COVID-19 Post-acute Sequelae Among Adults: 12 Month Mortality Risk, in: Frontiers in Medicine (December 12, 2021), online in: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.778434.
Background: There are concerns regarding post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, but it is unclear whether COVID-19 poses a significant downstream mortality risk. The objective was to determine the relationship between COVID-19 infection and 12-month mortality after recovery from the initial episode of COVID-19 in adult patients.
Methods: An analysis of electronic health records (EHR) was performed for a cohort of 13,638 patients, including COVID-19 positive and a comparison group of COVID-19 negative patients, who were followed for 12 months post COVID-19 episode at one health system. Both COVID-19 positive patients and COVID-19 negative patients were PCR validated. COVID-19 positive patients were classified as severe if they were hospitalized within the first 30 days of the date of their initial positive test. The 12-month risk of mortality was assessed in unadjusted Cox regressions and those adjusted for age, sex, race and comorbidities. Separate subgroup analyses were conducted for (a) patients aged 65 and older and (b) those <65 years.
Results: Of the 13,638 patients included in this cohort, 178 had severe COVID-19, 246 had mild/moderate COVID-19, and 13,214 were COVID-19 negative. In the cohort, 2,686 died in the 12-month period. The 12-month adjusted all-cause mortality risk was significantly higher for patients with severe COVID-19 compared to both COVID-19 negative patients (HR 2.50; 95% CI 2.02, 3.09) and mild COVID-19 patients (HR 1.87; 95% CI 1.28, 2.74). The vast majority of deaths (79.5%) were for causes other than respiratory or cardiovascular conditions. Among patients aged <65 years, the pattern was similar but the mortality risk for patients with severe COVID-19 was increased compared to both COVID-19 negative patients (HR 3.33; 95% CI 2.35, 4.73) and mild COVID-19 patients (HR 2.83; 95% CI 1.59, 5.04). Patients aged 65 and older with severe COVID-19 were also at increased 12-month mortality risk compared to COVID-19 negative patients (HR 2.17; 95% CI 1.66, 2.84) but not mild COVID-19 patients (HR 1.41; 95% CI 0.84, 2.34).
Discussion: Patients with a COVID-19 hospitalization were at significantly increased risk for future mortality. In a time when nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations are preventable this study points to an important and under-investigated sequela of COVID-19 and the corresponding need for prevention.