The following is a summary of “COVID-19 Infections and Inflammatory Markers in Patients Hospitalized During the First Year of the Pandemic,” published in the October 2023 issue of Primary Care by Kalaiselvan, et al.
SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infections manifest with a wide range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic upper respiratory infections to severe respiratory failure necessitating mechanical ventilation. Clinicians frequently evaluated inflammatory markers in hospitalized patients to assess the infection’s severity. In 2020, multiple studies reported data on the prevalence of elevated inflammatory markers in hospitalized patients with varying degrees of disease severity.
A search of the PubMed database was conducted using the terms “Inflammatory markers in COVID-19 patients” and “Clinical features of patients infected with COVID-19.” A detailed analysis was performed on 33 publications to identify which inflammatory markers exhibited elevated levels and the frequency of these elevations in different clinical classifications, including hospitalized patients, those with pneumonia, severe infections, ICU admissions, and patient mortality.
C-reactive protein (CRP) was the most commonly elevated inflammatory marker across all categories. Ferritin, D-dimer, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate levels were also frequently elevated. Generally, higher frequencies of elevation were observed in patients with more severe infections. For instance, all 24 patients who died had elevated CRP levels.
The study offered specific information about the frequency of various inflammatory markers in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, shedding light on the approaches adopted by clinicians during the initial stages of the pandemic to characterize these patients and gain insights into the disease process. The findings suggested that clinicians and laboratory directors should develop protocols to optimize laboratory testing for improved patient management.