Men who are admitted to a hospital due to coronavirus-related complications have a 30 percent higher death rate than that of hospitalized women, according to a new study out of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
In concluding the findings, which were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the researchers were able to evaluate nearly sixty-seven thousand hospitalized coronavirus patients in more than six hundred hospitals across the United States between April and June 2020.
What the team eventually discovered was that although patients who came in with diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity presented an elevated level of risk, the other strong predictor of death among all age groups and preexisting conditions was being male.
“Predicting which hospitalized COVID-19 patients have the highest risk of dying has taken on urgent importance as cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. continue to surge to record high numbers during the month of December,” the study’s corresponding author Dr. Anthony Harris said in a news release.
“Knowledge is power in many ways, so I think understanding which hospitalized COVID-19 patients are at highest risk of mortality can help guide difficult treatment decisions.”
In addition to gender, age was also deemed to be a convincing predictor of mortality. Overall, nearly 19 percent of all hospitalized patients in the study died, with the lowest mortality seen among pediatric patients, which stood at less than 2 percent. The highest mortality, at 34 percent, was witnessed among those eighty and older.
“Older patients still have the highest risk of dying, but younger patients with obesity or hypertension have the highest risk of dying relative to other patients their age without these conditions,” the study’s lead author Dr. Katherine Goodman said in a statement.
“Doctors may want to be paying extra attention to these younger patients when they’re hospitalized to ensure they detect any complications quickly.”
On a more positive note, death rates among hospitalized patients have dropped significantly since the early weeks of the pandemic in April. The researchers noted that this is likely due to improved hospital care and the availability of new treatments.
“As we head into what may be the darkest weeks of the pandemic, it is reassuring to know that our researchers are continuing to make important advances that could help guide the decision-making skills of health-care workers in the field,” Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.
The research findings are consistent with a Yale University study in August that found that older men, particularly those over sixty, were twice as likely to become severely sick and die from coronavirus compared to women of the same age.
“Female patients mounted significantly more robust T cell activation than male patients during SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was sustained in old age,” the study’s authors explained.
T cells have the ability to stop the spread of infection, destroy virus-tainted cells, and activate other immune cells, according to the researchers.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.