Importance: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an emerging infectious disease that was first reported in Wuhan, China, and has subsequently spread worldwide. Risk factors for the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 pneumonia have not yet been well delineated.
Objective: To describe the clinical characteristics and outcomes in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or died.
Design, setting, and participants: Retrospective cohort study of 201 patients with confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia admitted to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in China between December 25, 2019, and January 26, 2020. The final date of follow-up was February 13, 2020.
Exposures: Confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia.
Main outcomes and measures: The development of ARDS and death. Epidemiological, demographic, clinical, laboratory, management, treatment, and outcome data were also collected and analyzed.
Results: Of 201 patients, the median age was 51 years (interquartile range, 43-60 years), and 128 (63.7%) patients were men. Eighty-four patients (41.8%) developed ARDS, and of those 84 patients, 44 (52.4%) died. In those who developed ARDS, compared with those who did not, more patients presented with dyspnea (50 of 84 [59.5%] patients and 30 of 117 [25.6%] patients, respectively [difference, 33.9%; 95% CI, 19.7%-48.1%]) and had comorbidities such as hypertension (23 of 84 [27.4%] patients and 16 of 117 [13.7%] patients, respectively [difference, 13.7%; 95% CI, 1.3%-26.1%]) and diabetes (16 of 84 [19.0%] patients and 6 of 117 [5.1%] patients, respectively [difference, 13.9%; 95% CI, 3.6%-24.2%]). In bivariate Cox regression analysis, risk factors associated with the development of ARDS and progression from ARDS to death included older age (hazard ratio [HR], 3.26; 95% CI 2.08-5.11; and HR, 6.17; 95% CI, 3.26-11.67, respectively), neutrophilia (HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.09-1.19; and HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01-1.17, respectively), and organ and coagulation dysfunction (eg, higher lactate dehydrogenase [HR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.44-1.79; and HR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.11-1.52, respectively] and D-dimer [HR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01-1.04; and HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01-1.04, respectively]). High fever (≥39 °C) was associated with higher likelihood of ARDS development (HR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.11-2.84) and lower likelihood of death (HR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.21-0.82). Among patients with ARDS, treatment with methylprednisolone decreased the risk of death (HR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.20-0.72).
Conclusions and relevance: Older age was associated with greater risk of development of ARDS and death likely owing to less rigorous immune response. Although high fever was associated with the development of ARDS, it was also associated with better outcomes among patients with ARDS. Moreover, treatment with methylprednisolone may be beneficial for patients who develop ARDS.