Background & aims: Overweight and obesity have been consistently reported to carry an increased risk for poorer outcomes in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults. Existing reports mainly focus on in-hospital and intensive care unit mortality in patient cohorts usually not representative of the population with the highest mortality, i.e. the very old and frail patients. Accordingly, little is known about the risk patterns related to body mass and nutrition in very old patients. Our aim was to assess the relationship between body mass index (BMI), nutritional status and in-geriatric hospital mortality among geriatric patients treated for COVID-19. As a reference, the analyses were performed also in patients treated for other diagnoses than COVID-19.
Methods: We analyzed up to 10,031 geriatric patients with a median age of 83 years of which 1409 (14%) were hospitalized for COVID-19 and 8622 (86%) for other diagnoses in seven geriatric hospitals in the Stockholm region, Sweden during March 2020-January 2021. Data were available in electronic hospital records. The associations between 1) BMI and 2) nutritional status, assessed using the Mini-Nutritional Assessment - Short Form (MNA-SF) scale, and short-term in-geriatric hospital mortality were analyzed using logistic regression.
Results: After adjusting for age, sex, comorbidity, polypharmacy, frailty and the wave of the pandemic (first vs. second), underweight defined as BMI<18.5 increased the risk of in-hospital mortality in COVID-19 patients (odds ratio [OR] = 2.30; confidence interval [CI] = 1.17-4.31). Overweight and obesity were not associated with in-hospital mortality. Malnutrition; i.e. MNA-SF 0-7 points, increased the risk of in-hospital mortality in patients treated for COVID-19 (OR = 2.03; CI = 1.16-3.68) and other causes (OR = 6.01; CI = 2.73-15.91).
Conclusions: Our results indicate that obesity is not a risk factor for very old patients with COVID-19, but emphasize the role of underweight and malnutrition for in-hospital mortality in geriatric patients with COVID-19.
Keywords: BMI; COVID-19; MNA-SF; Malnutrition; Mortality; Obesity.
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