Relation between nutrition therapy in the acute phase and outcomes of ventilated patients with COVID-19 infection: a multicenter prospective observational study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2022 Apr 1;115(4):1115-1122. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac014.


Background: Optimal nutrition therapy has not yet been established for the acute phase of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection.

Objectives: We aimed to examine the effects of nutrition delivery in the acute phase on mortality and the long-term outcomes of post-intensive care syndrome (PICS).

Methods: A multicenter prospective study was conducted on adult patients with COVID-19 infection requiring mechanical ventilation during an intensive care unit (ICU) stay. Daily total energy (kcal/kg) and protein (g/kg) deliveries in the first week of the ICU stay were calculated. The questionnaire for PICS evaluation was mailed within a median of 6 mo after hospital discharge. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality, and secondary outcomes were the PICS components of physical impairment, cognitive dysfunction, and mental illness.

Results: Among 414 eligible patients, 297 who received mechanical ventilation for 7 d or longer were examined. PICS was evaluated in 175 patients among them. High protein delivery on days 4-7 correlated with a low in-hospital mortality rate. In contrast, high protein delivery on days 1-3 correlated with physical impairment. A multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and severity revealed that average energy and protein deliveries on days 4-7 correlated with decreased in-hospital mortality (OR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.89, 0.99; P = 0.013 and OR: 0.40; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.93; P = 0.031, respectively). Nutrition delivery did not correlate with PICS outcomes after adjustments. In the multivariate regression using a restricted cubic spline model, in-hospital mortality monotonically decreased with increases in average nutrition delivery on days 4-7.

Conclusions: In patents with COVID-19 on mechanical ventilation for ≥7 d, nutrition delivery in the late period of the acute phase was monotonically associated with a decrease in in-hospital mortality. Adequate protein delivery is needed on days 4-7.This trial was registered at as UMIN000041276.

Keywords: COVID-19; ICU-AW; PICS; energy; intensive care unit acquired weakness; nutrition; post-intensive care syndrome; protein.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Nutritional Support
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial