In a new study, researchers found that patients with COVID-19 and vertebral fractures are twice as likely to die from the disease.
This is the first time scientists show that individuals who have such fractures appear to be at increased risk of severe COVID-19.
The research was conducted by a team at the San Raffaele Vita-Salute University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milano, Italy.
Vertebral fractures occur when the bony block or vertebral body in the spine collapses, which can lead to severe pain, deformity, and loss of height.
These fractures are typically caused by osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones). They are a marker of frailty.
Vertebral fractures are prevalent in COVID-19 patients and can influence cardiorespiratory function and disease outcomes.
In the study, the researchers studied the x-rays of 114 COVID-19 patients and detected thoracic vertebral fractures in 35%.
These patients were older and more affected by high blood pressure and heart disease.
They were more likely to need ventilators and were twice as likely to die compared to those without fractures. The death rate was higher in patients with severe fractures.
The team says a simple thoracic x-ray can detect these fractures and morphometric evaluation should be performed in COVID-19 patients at hospital admission.
One author of the study is Andrea Giustina, M.D., Director of the Institute of Endocrine and Metabolic Sciences.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
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