South Korea study finds coronavirus risk factors for severe disease

Doctors in South Korea have determined several predictors of severe disease in hospitalized coronavirus patients, according to a recent study.

They say the findings may help to identify and prioritize higher-risk patients in the early stage of coronavirus-related respiratory disease.

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The study, published on June 2 in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, concluded that diabetes, body temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cardiac injury and lower oxygen saturation at admission were prognostic factors for severe cases of COVID-19.

The doctors observed 110 patients with confirmed COVID-19 at a hospital in Daegu, a city in South Korea that served as the “main battlefield” against the virus, NPR reported in March. Daegu is the fourth-largest city in South Korea and has a population of more than two million people.

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From February 19 to April 15, the doctors observed 23 of the 110 patients in the Yeungnam University Medical Center experience a severe case of COVID-19. The in-hospital case fatality rate was reported at 7.3 percent.

Patients with severe cases were “significantly older” than the others, study authors wrote, and were more likely to have diabetes and hypertension, among other conditions previously mentioned.

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“I believe using prognostic factors of severe COVID-19 patients will provide an opportunity for physicians to offer those risk-high patients with the best medical care from the early stage of the disease,” Ahn June-hong, professor of internal medicine, told Reuters.

Authors of the study noted that 81 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild, while 14 percent are severe and 5 percent are critical, with the fatality rate at about 50 percent in critical cases.

The latest figures from South Korea report 11,947 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 276 deaths; 1,017 individuals are reportedly isolated.