A new study shows nearly nine in ten coronavirus patients on ventilators ended up dying in New York state.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, evaluated cases of COVID-19 patients admitted to 12 hospitals within the Northwell Health system in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. Researchers evaluated electronic health records of 5,700 patients with the disease caused by coronavirus from March 1 through April 4.
Overall, about 20 percent of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients died. Of hospitalized patients who were placed on ventilators, which force air into the lungs of patients who cannot breathe on their own, 88 percent died.
According to CNN, only 12 percent of the patients in the study required ventilators, but it shows how grim the outlook is in that situation.
Most of those who died or became severely ill had a pre-existing condition, such as high blood pressure (57%), obesity (41%) and diabetes (34%). Men were more likely to die than women, and older patients were more at risk as well; no one under the age of 18 died in the study.
“Of the patients who died, those with diabetes were more likely to have received invasive mechanical ventilation or care in the ICU compared with those who did not have diabetes,” the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research’s Dr. Safiya Richardson wrote, along with colleagues.
The results echo smaller studies earlier this month in the U.S., China and Europe which also found most patients who require breathing machines do not survive. Most stay on a ventilator for weeks, and the longer they’re on it, the more likely they are to die.
“We’re not sure how much help ventilators are going to be,” Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a critical care specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, recently told NPR. “They may help keep somebody alive in the short term. We’re not sure if it’s going to help keep someone alive in the long term.”
Researchers in the Northwell Health study said final outcomes were only available for about half of the patients, so it’s possible more of those on ventilators survived.
“The absence of data on patients who remained hospitalized at the final study date may have biased the findings, including the high mortality rate of patients who received mechanical ventilation older than age 65 years,” the paper said.
Most coronavirus patients overall survived and were released from the hospital after an average of four days, according to the study. The majority of overall coronavirus cases see mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization.
More than 2.6 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including 185,000 deaths globally. The U.S. has seen more than 843,000 COVID-19 cases and 46,851 deaths as of Thursday, including 263,754 cases in New York and over 15,300 deaths statewide.