Worst COVID-19 Patients May Want to Lie Facedown

Per a research letter out of Wuhan, China
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2020 11:50 AM CDT
Worst COVID-19 Patients May Want to Lie Facedown
Medical staff members check a ventilator in protective suits at the care unit for new COVID-19-infected patients inside the Koranyi National Institute of Pulmonology in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday.   (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)

An interesting finding out of Wuhan: A small six-day study in February of Chinese COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized and on ventilators found that their lungs benefited from them lying facedown. In a research letter published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the researchers share the details of how 12 patients with severe COVID-19 infection-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)—67% to 85% of ICU patients with the coronavirus develop ARDS, per the letter—who were on mechanical ventilation and receiving positive pressure fared. It's a very high-risk group, with the letter stating that an observational study for 52 patients with ARDS found a 61.5% mortality rate.

The doctors measured how the patients' lungs responded to pressure (called lung recruitability) and found that patients who had at least one session of being positioned facedown experienced increased lung recruitability, per a press release. Those who didn't had poor lung recruitability. "It is only a small number of patients, but our study shows that ... the lung improves when the patient is in the prone position," says Dr. Chun Pan. CNN flags some other data being released on COVID-19 patients: The mortality rate for men seems to be higher. Per CNN's analysis of publicly available data, for every 10 female cases in Italy there were 14 male cases, but for every 10 women who have died there, 24 men have died. It lists stats for five more countries here. (More coronavirus stories.)

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