COVID patient in hospital

Linking underlying conditions with poorer outcomes in COVID-19 patients

  • Research

The underlying conditions associated with more severe outcomes from COVID-19 in an Irish setting have been identified, following a national study of 20,000 positive cases conducted by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Published in The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, these findings can help inform public health policies and assist in future treatment and prevention strategies for people at most risk from the virus.

The study took place during the first wave of the pandemic in Ireland, between March and July 2020, and is the first national surveillance study in Ireland to capture data from both hospital and community settings.

Amongst the patients studied, there were 1,476 (7.5%) deaths, 2,811 (14%) hospitalisations and 438 (2%) ICU admissions.

The conditions that were identified as carrying the most risk were chronic heart disease, a chronic neurological condition, chronic kidney disease and cancer. Patients who were morbidly obese (defined as a Body Mass Index equal to or greater than 40) were also identified as being at higher risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Previous studies suggested that specific underlying conditions influence adverse health outcomes among those with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The majority of these studies have, however, focused on hospital-based or local populations only. This study is the first population-based research to capture data across all settings in Ireland, including both community and hospital settings, giving a better picture of the impact of the disease on patients at the population level.