Clinical determinants of the severity of COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis




We aimed to systematically identify the possible risk factors responsible for severe cases.


We searched PubMed, Embase, Web of science and Cochrane Library for epidemiological studies of confirmed COVID-19, which include information about clinical characteristics and severity of patients’ disease. We analyzed the potential associations between clinical characteristics and severe cases.


We identified a total of 41 eligible studies including 21060 patients with COVID-19. Severe cases were potentially associated with advanced age (Standard Mean Difference (SMD) = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.34–2.12), male gender (Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.51, 95% CI:1.33–1.71), obesity (OR = 1.89, 95% CI: 1.44–2.46), history of smoking (OR = 1.40, 95% CI:1.06–1.85), hypertension (OR = 2.42, 95% CI: 2.03–2.88), diabetes (OR = 2.40, 95% CI: 1.98–2.91), coronary heart disease (OR: 2.87, 95% CI: 2.22–3.71), chronic kidney disease (CKD) (OR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.63–5.41), cerebrovascular disease (OR = 2.47, 95% CI: 1.54–3.97), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (OR = 2.88, 95% CI: 1.89–4.38), malignancy (OR = 2.60, 95% CI: 2.00–3.40), and chronic liver disease (OR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.06–2.17). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (OR = 39.59, 95% CI: 19.99–78.41), shock (OR = 21.50, 95% CI: 10.49–44.06) and acute kidney injury (AKI) (OR = 8.84, 95% CI: 4.34–18.00) were most likely to prevent recovery. In summary, patients with severe conditions had a higher rate of comorbidities and complications than patients with non-severe conditions.


Patients who were male, with advanced age, obesity, a history of smoking, hypertension, diabetes, malignancy, coronary heart disease, hypertension, chronic liver disease, COPD, or CKD are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms. ARDS, shock and AKI were thought to be the main hinderances to recovery.

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Neurologic Manifestations Associations of COVID-19

High-quality epidemiologic data is still urgently needed to better understand neurologic effects of COVID-19.

Authors: Shraddha Mainali, MD; and Marin Darsie, MD VIEW/PRINT PDF

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection continues to prevail as a deadly pandemic and unparalleled global crisis. More than 74 million people have been infected globally, and over 1.6 million have died as of mid-December 2020. The virus transmits mainly through close contacts and respiratory droplets.1 Although the mean incubation period is 3 to 9 days (range, 0-24 days), transmission may occur prior to symptom onset, and about 18% of cases remain asymptomatic.2 The highest rates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US have been reported in adults age 18 to 29 and 50 to 64 years, representing 23.8% and 20.5% of cases, respectively.3 Although adults age 65 and older make up only 14.6% of total cases in the US, they account for the vast majority of deaths (79.9%).3 Similarly, men appear to be more vulnerable to the disease, accounting for 69% of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and 58% of deaths despite nearly equal disease prevalence between men and women.4 In terms of ethnicity, Black Americans account for 15.6% of COVID-19 infections and 19.7% of related deaths, whereas Hispanic/Latinx Americans account for 26.3% of COVID-19 infections and 15.7% of COVID-19 deaths, despite these groups comprising 13.4% and 16.7% of the US population, respectively.3,5

The most commonly reported symptoms are fever, dry cough, fatigue, dyspnea, and anorexia.2 Numerous studies have also reported a spectrum of neurologic dysfunctions, including mild symptoms (eg, headache, anosmia, and dysgeusia) to severe complications (eg, stroke and encephalitis). Despite the prolific reports of neurologic associations and complications of COVID-19 in the face of a raging pandemic with limited resources, there is a significant lack of control for important confounders including the severity of systemic disease, exacerbation or recrudescence of preexisting neurologic disease, iatrogenic complications, and hospital-acquired conditions. Moreover, given the ubiquity of the virus, it is challenging to parse COVID-19–related complications from coexisting conditions. There is an urgent need for high-quality epidemiologic data reflecting COVID-19 prevalence by age, sex, race, and ethnicity on a local, state, national, and international level.

Neurologic and Neuropsychiatric Manifestations of COVID-19

Prevalence estimates of acute neurologic dysfunctions caused by COVID-19 are widely variable, with reports ranging from 3.5% to 36.4%.6 A recent study from Chicago showed that in those with COVID-19 who develop neurologic complications, 42% had neurologic complaints at disease onset, 63% had them during hospitalization, and 82% experienced them during the course of illness.7 Considering the widespread nature of the pandemic, with millions infected globally, neurologic complications of COVID-19 could lead to a significant increase in morbidity, mortality, and economic burden.

People over age 50 with comorbidities (eg, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) are prone to neurologic complications.2,8 Common nonspecific symptoms include headache, fatigue, malaise, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anorexia, and dizziness. COVID-19 is known characteristically to affect taste (dysgeusia) and smell (anosmia) in the absence of coryza with variable prevalence estimates ranging from 5% to 85%.9 Since the first report on hospitalized individuals in Wuhan, China, numerous other reports have indicated a spectrum of mild-to-severe neurologic complications, including cerebrovascular events, seizures, demyelinating disease, and encephalitis.8,10-13 As a result of fragmented data from across the world with diverse neurologic manifestations and multiple potential mechanisms of injury, the classification of neurologic dysfunctions in COVID-19 is complex and varies across the literature. Here we present 2 pragmatic classification approaches based on 1) type and site of neurologic manifestations disease categories.

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Potential mechanisms of cerebrovascular diseases in COVID-19 patients

Authors: Manxue Lou 1Dezhi Yuan 2 3Shengtao Liao 4Linyan Tong 1Jinfang Li 5Affiliations expand


Since the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in 2019, it is gaining worldwide attention at the moment. Apart from respiratory manifestations, neurological dysfunction in COVID-19 patients, especially the occurrence of cerebrovascular diseases (CVD), has been intensively investigated. In this review, the effects of COVID-19 infection on CVD were summarized as follows: (I) angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) may be involved in the attack on vascular endothelial cells by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), leading to endothelial damage and increased subintimal inflammation, which are followed by hemorrhage or thrombosis; (II) SARS-CoV-2 could alter the expression/activity of ACE2, consequently resulting in the disruption of renin-angiotensin system which is associated with the occurrence and progression of atherosclerosis; (III) upregulation of neutrophil extracellular traps has been detected in COVID-19 patients, which is closely associated with immunothrombosis; (IV) the inflammatory cascade induced by SARS-CoV-2 often leads to hypercoagulability and promotes the formation and progress of atherosclerosis; (V) antiphospholipid antibodies are also detected in plasma of some severe cases, which aggravate the thrombosis through the formation of immune complexes; (VI) hyperglycemia in COVID-19 patients may trigger CVD by increasing oxidative stress and blood viscosity; (VII) the COVID-19 outbreak is a global emergency and causes psychological stress, which could be a potential risk factor of CVD as coagulation, and fibrinolysis may be affected. In this review, we aimed to further our understanding of CVD-associated COVID-19 infection, which could improve the therapeutic outcomes of patients. Personalized treatments should be offered to COVID-19 patients at greater risk for stroke in future clinical practice.

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The Impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic on Cerebrovascular Disease: CORD-Papers-2021-06-28


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes a systemic disease that affects nearly all organ systems through infection and subsequent dysregulation of the vascular endothelium. One of the most striking phenomena has been a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)associated coagulopathy. Given these findings, questions naturally emerged about the prothrombotic impact of COVID-19 on cerebrovascular disease and whether ischemic stroke is a clinical feature specific to COVID-19 pathophysiology. Early reports from China and several sites in the northeastern United States seemed to confirm these suspicions. Since these initial reports, many cohort studies worldwide observed decreased rates of stroke since the start of the pandemic, raising concerns for a broader impact of the pandemic on stroke treatment. In this review, we provide a comprehensive assessment of how the pandemic has affected stroke presentation, epidemiology, treatment, and outcomes to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on cerebrovascular disease. Much evidence suggests that this decline in stroke admissions stems from the global response to the virus, which has made it more difficult for patients to get to the hospital once symptoms start. However, there does not appear to be a demonstrable impact on quality metrics once patients arrive at the hospital. Despite initial concerns, there is insufficient evidence to ascribe a causal relationship specific to the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 on the cerebral vasculature. Nevertheless, when patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 present with stroke, their presentation is likely to be more severe, and they have a markedly higher rate of in-hospital mortality than patients with either acute ischemic stroke or COVID-19 alone.

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Can we predict the severe course of COVID-19 – a systematic review and meta-analysis of indicators of clinical outcome?

  1. Authors: Stephan Katzenschlager ,Alexandra J. Zimmer ,Claudius Gottschalk, Jürgen Grafeneder,Stephani Schmitz, Sara Kraker, Marlene Ganslmeier, Amelie Muth, Alexander Seitel, Lena Maier-Hein, Andrea Benedetti, Jan Larmann, Markus A. Weigand, Sean McGrath , Claudia M. Denkinger  



COVID-19 has been reported in over 40million people globally with variable clinical outcomes. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we assessed demographic, laboratory and clinical indicators as predictors for severe courses of COVID-19.


This systematic review was registered at PROSPERO under CRD42020177154. We systematically searched multiple databases (PubMed, Web of Science Core Collection, MedRvix and bioRvix) for publications from December 2019 to May 31st 2020. Random-effects meta-analyses were used to calculate pooled odds ratios and differences of medians between (1) patients admitted to ICU versus non-ICU patients and (2) patients who died versus those who survived. We adapted an existing Cochrane risk-of-bias assessment tool for outcome studies.


Of 6,702 unique citations, we included 88 articles with 69,762 patients. There was concern for bias across all articles included. Age was strongly associated with mortality with a difference of medians (DoM) of 13.15 years (95% confidence interval (CI) 11.37 to 14.94) between those who died and those who survived. We found a clinically relevant difference between non-survivors and survivors for C-reactive protein (CRP; DoM 69.10 mg/L, CI 50.43 to 87.77), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH; DoM 189.49 U/L, CI 155.00 to 223.98), cardiac troponin I (cTnI; DoM 21.88 pg/mL, CI 9.78 to 33.99) and D-Dimer (DoM 1.29mg/L, CI 0.9 to 1.69). Furthermore, cerebrovascular disease was the co-morbidity most strongly associated with mortality (Odds Ratio 3.45, CI 2.42 to 4.91) and ICU admission (Odds Ratio 5.88, CI 2.35 to 14.73).

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