A new study found that the symptoms of COVID-19 consisted of six different “groups” that can help predict which patients are at higher risk and who need respiratory help.
For the study, the researchers used a machine-learning algorithm to analyze data from more than 1,600 U.S. and UK patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and regularly recorded their symptoms in March and April. The researchers then tested the algorithm, using it on an additional 1,047 patients in the U.S., the UK and Sweden whose symptoms appeared on the program throughout May.
The study identified six groups of symptoms:
Cluster 1 (“fever” without fever): Headache, loss of smell, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever
Cluster 2 (fever): headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite
Cluster 3 (gastrointestinal tract): Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough
Cluster 4 (severe first level, fatigue): Headache, odor loss, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue
Cluster 5 (severe second level, confusion): Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain
Cluster 6 (severe third level, abdominal and respiratory tract): Headache, odor loss, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain
“While persistent cough, fever, and loss of odor (anosmia) are commonly highlighted as the three main symptoms of COVID-19, data collected by users of the program suggest that people may experience a wide variety of symptoms, including headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. , diarrhea, confusion, loss of appetite, shortness of breath and more, ”said a report in the Zoe program. “Progress and outcomes also vary widely between people, ranging from mild purulent symptoms or a simple rash to serious or fatal illnesses.”
The researchers also looked at which groups of patients needed ventilators or supplemental oxygen more often, and found that patients in clusters 6, 5, and 4 (19.8%, 9.9%, and 8.6%, respectively) needed the most respiratory support. . However, “only 1.5 percent. 1 cluster of people, 4.4 percent. 2 cluster people and 3.3 percent. COVID-19 people in cluster 3 needed breath support, ”said King College London, whose researchers, along with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, contributed to the research program.
The authors of the study suggested that these results could be used to “monitor at-risk patients and predict the need for medical resources a few days before they are required”, for example, adding that “patients who enter clusters 5 or 6 on day 5 have a high hospitalization and respiratory support risk and may benefit from home pulse oximetry by using daily telephone calls from their general practice to ensure that the hospital visits at the appropriate time during the illness. “
The study’s co-author, Claire Steves, a senior clinical lecturer at King’s College London, tells Yahoo Life: “This study helps us see the different ways COVID is presented. This alerts us to symptoms that are especially worrying in the first few days if someone has a positive test, such as confusion, abdominal symptoms, and severe fatigue. More importantly, if we start monitoring symptoms within the first five days, we can help those who travel earlier with a more serious illness, and possibly prevent them from getting sick. “
Linda Anegawa, a practitioner of the virtual primary care platform PlushCare, tells Yahoo Life that the results of the study are “interesting because so far we’ve focused on patient characteristics that [put] people at risk of serious illness. This is the first case I have seen where the actual symptoms are related to the severity of the disease. “
She adds: “While further research is needed, now identifying six groups, doctors can help disperse the patients they see and allocate resources to those patients who are thought to suffer more. This is very important because there is a lack of resources and doctors are scattered little, especially in places where the wave is rising. “
Anegawa also says that the ability to identify which cluster matches your symptoms “can help patients seek help earlier if they identify symptoms by assigning them to one of the high-risk categories”.
Lung and Critical Care Specialist, Wexner Medical Center, Ohio, Dr. Matthew Exline tells Yahoo Life that the research is “very helpful”, including for patients with mild coronavirus symptoms. “Many patients are obviously very worried when they are told they have COVID. We focus properly on the worst case scenario – danger if you end up with a fan, things like that. “But knowing you’re in a low-risk group can ease that anxiety. Doctors may say, “Hey, many of your type symptoms don’t need much [medical] “The help is reassuring to patients and very helpful,” he says.
Both Exline and Anegawa emphasize, however, that the study was not reviewed. Anegawa also expressed concern about the attempt to group patients into groups: “I have seen many patients who appear to vary between several groups of symptoms or who have symptoms in several groups – for example, a patient with diarrhea only. How would we classify these types of individuals? This is a difficult question. “
But overall, Exline says using such a program to allow COVID-19 patients to record their daily symptoms is a “great idea,” adding, “I think it’s wonderful to use the data. One of the things that really challenges COVID research [that scientists have] so many questions and there are only a great many people trying to answer those questions. It is difficult for people to make hundreds of phone calls [to collect data on patients]. By asking people who want to enter symptoms when they occur, you can get a lot of data. “
Anegawa agrees and adds: “In today’s time when virtual medicine is rapidly gaining popularity, health programs are a great way to help patients collect data about their telemedicine visits. In the future, I look forward to programs that will help re-screen patients with symptoms, saving time and resources. “
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