J Integr Med. 2020 Jul 10:S2095-4964(20)30072-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2020.07.002. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has raised concern around the world as an epidemic or pandemic. As data on COVID-19 has grown, it has become clear that older adults have a disproportionately high rate of death from COVID-19. This study describes the early clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in patients with more than 80 years of age.
METHODS: Epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and treatment data from 17 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 20 and February 20, 2020 were collected and analyzed retrospectively. Treatment outcomes among subgroups of patients with non-severe and severe symptoms of COVID-19 were compared.
RESULTS: Of the 17 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, the median age was 88.0 years (interquartile range, 86.6-90.0 years; range, 80.0-100.0 years) and 12 (70.6%) were men. The age distribution of patients was not significantly different between non-severe group and severe group. All patients had chronic pre-existing conditions. Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases were the most common chronic conditions in both subgroups. The most common symptoms at the onset of COVID-19 were fever (n = 13; 76.5%), fatigue (n = 11; 64.7%), and cough (n = 5; 29.4%). Lymphopenia was observed in all patients, and lymphopenia was significantly more severe in the severe group than that in non-severe group (0.4 × 109/L vs 1.2 × 109/L, P = 0.014). The level of serum creatinine was higher in the severe group than in the non-severe group (99.0 μmol/L vs 62.5 μmol/L, P = 0.038). The most common features of chest computed tomography images were nodular foci in 10 (58.8%) patients and pleural thickening in 7 (41.2%) patients. All patients received antiviral therapy, while some patients also received intravenous antibiotics therapy (76.5%), Chinese medicinal preparation therapy (Lianhuaqingwen capsule, 64.7%), corticosteroids (35.3%) or immunoglobin (29.4%). Eight patients (47.1%) were transferred to the intensive care unit because of complications. Ten patients (58.8%) received intranasal oxygen, while 3 (17.6%) received non-invasive mechanical ventilation, and 4 (23.5%) received high-flow oxygen. As of June 20, 7 (41.2%) patients had been discharged and 10 (58.8% of this cohort, 77.8% of severe patients) had died.
CONCLUSION: The mortality of patients aged 80 years and older with severe COVID-19 symptoms was high. Lymphopenia was a characteristic laboratory result in these patients, and the severity of lymphopenia was indicative of the severity of COVID-19. However, the majority of patients with COVID-19 in this age cohort had atypical symptoms, and early diagnosis depends on prompt use of a viral nucleic acid test.