Important Management Considerations In Patients With Pituitary Disorders During The Time Of The Covid-19 Pandemic

Kevin C J Yuen, Lewis S Blevins, James W Findling
Endocrine Practice 2020, 26 (8): 915-922

OBJECTIVE: In December 2019, a novel coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that resulted in a global pandemic with substantial morbidity and mortality. Currently, there is no specific treatment or approved vaccine against COVID-19. The underlying associated comorbidity and diminished immune function of some pituitary patients (whether caused by the disease and its sequelae or treatment with excess glucocorticoids) increases their risk of contracting and developing complications from COVID-19 infection.

METHODS: A review of studies in PubMed and Google Scholar published between January 2020 to the time of writing (May 1, 2020) was conducted using the search terms 'pituitary,' 'coronavirus,' 'COVID-19', '2019-nCoV', 'diabetes mellitus', 'obesity', 'adrenal,' and 'endocrine.'

RESULTS: Older age and pre-existing obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus increase the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients. Men tend to be more severely affected than women; fortunately, most men, particularly of younger age, survive the infection. In addition to general comorbidities that may apply to many pituitary patients, they are also susceptible due to the following pituitary disorder-specific features: hypercortisolemia and adrenal suppression with Cushing disease, adrenal insufficiency and diabetes insipidus with hypopituitarism, and sleep-apnea syndrome and chest wall deformity with acromegaly.

CONCLUSION: This review aims to focus on the impact of COVID-19 in patients with pituitary disorders. As most countries are implementing mobility restrictions, we also discuss how this pandemic has affected patient attitudes and impacted our decision-making on management recommendations for these patients.

ABBREVIATIONS: ACE = angiotensin-converting enzyme; AI = adrenal insufficiency; ARB = angiotensin receptor blocker; ARDS = acute respiratory disease syndrome; COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019; CPAP = continuous positive airway pressure; DI = diabetes insipidus; DM = diabetes mellitus; SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

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