What are characteristics of critically ill patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Updated: Jun 16, 2020
  • Author: Medscape Drugs & Diseases; more...
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Critically ill patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) generally have the following characteristics [2] :

  • Are older (median age 66 years)

  • Have underlying comorbid conditions (72%)

  • Need high-flow oxygen therapy (11-64%)

  • Need mechanical ventilation (47-71%)

  • Need advanced organ support with endotracheal intubation an mechanical ventilation (4-42%)

  • Need respiratory support with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) (3-12%)


Among patients who developed severe disease, the medium time to dyspnea ranged from 5 to 8 days, the median time to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) ranged from 8 to 12 days, and the median time to admission to the intenstive care unit (ICU) ranged from 10 to 12 days. [1]

Note: Some patients can rapidly deteriorate 1 week after illness onset. Among all hospitalized patients, 26% to 32% of patients were admitted to the ICU. [1]  Moreover, among all patients, 3% to 17% developed ARDS, compared to 20% to 42% for hospitalized patients and 67% to 85% for those admitted to the ICU. Mortality among COVID-19 ICU patients ranged from 39% to 72%. The median length of hospitalization among survivors was 10 to 13 days.

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