Younger adults with COVID still at risk of serious organ damage

pharmafile | July 16, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications  

Young adults admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are almost as likely to experience complications as those over 50, a study from the Department of Health and Social Care has suggested.

Four in 10 people aged between 19 and 49 developed problems with their kidneys, lungs or other organs while treated, the research found.

The study examined 73,197 adults of all ages across 302 UK hospitals during the first wave of the pandemic last year, and also looked at the number of “complications” in those needing hospital treatment for Covid-19, defined as an organ-specific medical diagnosis.

Overall, about half of all adult patients suffered a least one complication during their hospital stay. The most common was a kidney injury, followed by lung and heart damage.

The research has been published in The Lancet, and had the aim of characterising the extent and effect of COVID-19 complications, particularly in those who survive, using the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections Consortium WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK.

The highest rate of complications following COVID infection was found in those aged over 50, with 51% experiencing at least one complication. However, the complication rates were still high in younger age groups, with 37% of 30 to 39 years olds and 44% of 40 to 49 year olds experiencing at least one complication.

Doctors are not yet certain how a severe COVID illness can cause organ damage, but it is thought in some cases the body’s own immune system can spark an inflammatory response and injure healthy tissue.

The research was conducted in the first wave of the pandemic between January 17 and August 4 2020 – before vaccines were available and new variants of the virus had been detected.

The authors said the data suggested those with more severe COVID symptoms at admission to hospital were more likely to suffer serious health problems, showing the importance of vaccines in reducing the severity of the disease in this latest wave.

The study was only designed to look at short-term complications during a hospital stay but there is evidence some organ damage can persist, becoming a form of what is known as long COVID.

Prof Calum Semple, leader of the study, said: “The message is that this is not just a disease of the elderly and frail. The data reinforces the fact that COVID is not flu and we are seeing even young adults coming into hospital suffering significant complications, some of which will require furthering monitoring and potentially further treatment in the future.”

Kat Jenkins

Related Content

No items found

Latest content