Older age, comorbidity, glucocorticoid use and disease activity are risk factors for COVID-19 hospitalisation in patients with inflammatory rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases

Rebecca Hasseli, Ulf Mueller-Ladner, Bimba F Hoyer, Andreas Krause, Hanns-Martin Lorenz, Alexander Pfeil, Jutta Richter, Martin Schäfer, Tim Schmeiser, Anja Strangfeld, Hendrik Schulze-Koops, Reinhard E Voll, Christof Specker, Anne Constanze Regierer
RMD Open 2021, 7 (1)

INTRODUCTION: Whether patients with inflammatory rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD) are at higher risk to develop severe courses of COVID-19 has not been fully elucidated. Aim of this analysis was to describe patients with RMD according to their COVID-19 severity and to identify risk factors for hospitalisation.

METHODS: Patients with RMD with PCR confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection reported to the German COVID-19 registry from 30 March to 1 November 2020 were evaluated. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate ORs for hospitalisation due to COVID-19.

RESULTS: Data from 468 patients with RMD with SARS-CoV-2 infection were reported. Most frequent diagnosis was rheumatoid arthritis, RA (48%). 29% of the patients were hospitalised, 5.5% needed ventilation. 19 patients died. Multivariable analysis showed that age >65 years (OR 2.24; 95% CI 1.12 to 4.47), but even more>75 years (OR 3.94; 95% CI 1.86 to 8.32), cardiovascular disease (CVD; OR 3.36; 95% CI 1.5 to 7.55), interstitial lung disease/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (ILD/COPD) (OR 2.79; 95% CI 1.2 to 6.49), chronic kidney disease (OR 2.96; 95% CI 1.16 to 7.5), moderate/high RMD disease activity (OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.02 to 3.76) and treatment with glucocorticoids (GCs) in dosages >5 mg/day (OR 3.67; 95% CI 1.49 to 9.05) were associated with higher odds of hospitalisation. Spondyloarthritis patients showed a smaller risk of hospitalisation compared with RA (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.23 to 0.91).

CONCLUSION: Age was a major risk factor for hospitalisation as well as comorbidities such as CVD, ILD/COPD, chronic kidney disease and current or prior treatment with GCs. Moderate to high RMD disease activity was also an independent risk factor for hospitalisation, underlining the importance of continuing adequate RMD treatment during the pandemic.

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