Can a blood test determine how severe a case of COVID-19 you are likely to develop?
Researchers at George Washington University say a study of the blood of 299 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 showed that certain substances that can be measured in the blood can give doctors a clue as to who is more likely to have a severe outcome from the virus.
"When we first started treating COVID-19 patients, we watched them get better or get worse, but we didn't know why," said Juan Reyes, MD, co-author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "Some initial studies had come out of China showing certain biomarkers were associated with bad outcomes. There was a desire to see if that was true for our patients here in the U.S."
The researchers named five biomarkers, or substances that are measured in a person’s body, that tend to lead to a poor outcome in a person who has contracted the novel coronavirus, according to a news release from the university.
The study was published in Future Medicine.
“This study has identified these five biomarkers as having an association with bad outcomes and not causation in a U.S. cohort,” study authors Dr. Juan Reyes and Dr. Shant Ayanian told Fox News.
Increased levels of the biomarkers were seen in patients who had bleeding disorders and inflammation. Those increases in the biomarker levels have led to an increased risk for ICU admission, the need for ventilation to support breathing and deaths, according to the study.
The biomarkers researchers targeted are:
C-reactive protein (CRP): A protein made by the liver. Increased levels indicate a condition causing inflammation somewhere in the body.
D-dimer: Protein fragments produced when a blood clot gets dissolved in the body.
Interleukin-6 (IL-6): A protein produced by various cells that can be useful as a marker of immune system activation, meaning there is some inflammation, infection or disease in the body.
Lactate dehydrogenase (LD or LDH): An enzyme involved in energy production that is found in almost all of the body's cells. The enzyme is found in its highest levels in the cells of the heart, liver, muscles, kidneys, lungs, and in blood cells.
Ferritin: A protein that contains iron. It is the primary form of iron stored in cells.
The study was aimed at helping doctors to determine the best treatment for COVID-19 positive patients, the GWU researchers said.
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