In December 2019, the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was initiated in Wuhan, now causing a worldwide pandemic. However, the experience in the very elderly patients is very limited, which has important implications for the surveillances of hospital infection in medical and health institutions.
Seven patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection in the Department of Geriatrics at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University were included. Clinical data were retrospectively collected and analyzed. The laboratory test and chest CT images from the patients before and after the COVID-19 infection were compared.
The median age of patients was 91 years old (from 87 to 96). Six patients had pneumonia in the last six months. Dyspnea occurred in one patient 64 hours after the onset of the disease. The rest six patients only manifested minor fatigue with low fever. Lymphopenia and a significant reduction in plasma globulin level has been observed compared to the levels before the onset of the disease. None had typical chest CT phenotypes at the early stage, except the mentioned critically ill patient who had a “white lung” development and died. One even showed an absorption of inflammation compared with previous hypostatic pneumonia.
The ratio of fatal cases in the very elderly COVID-19 infected patients is not higher to that reported in the non-elderly patients, probably due to low immune response. The elderly patients, however, manifested minor clinical symptoms and atypical changes in chest CT images, which usually lead to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
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