Impact of chronic oral glucocorticoid treatment on mortality in patients with COVID-19: analysis of a population-based cohort.

Einarsdottir MJ, Kibiwott Kirui B, Li H, Olsson D, Johannsson G, Nyberg F, Ragnarsson O

BMJ Open 14 (3) e080640 [2024-03-15; online 2024-03-15]

While glucocorticoid (GC) treatment initiated for COVID-19 reduces mortality, it is unclear whether GC treatment prior to COVID-19 affects mortality. Long-term GC use raises infection and thromboembolic risks. We investigated if patients with oral GC use prior to COVID-19 had increased mortality overall and by selected causes. Population-based observational cohort study. Population-based register data in Sweden. All patients infected with COVID-19 in Sweden from January 2020 to November 2021 (n=1 200 153). Any prior oral GC use was defined as ≥1 GC prescription during 12 months before index. High exposure was defined as ≥2 GC prescriptions with a cumulative prednisolone dose ≥750 mg or equivalent during 6 months before index. GC users were compared with COVID-19 patients who had not received GCs within 12 months before index. We used Cox proportional hazard models and 1:2 propensity score matching to estimate HRs and 95% CIs, controlling for the same confounders in all analyses. 3378 deaths occurred in subjects with any prior GC exposure (n=48 806; 6.9%) and 14 850 among non-exposed (n=1 151 347; 1.3%). Both high (HR 1.98, 95% CI 1.87 to 2.09) and any exposure (1.58, 1.52 to 1.65) to GCs were associated with overall death. Deaths from pulmonary embolism, sepsis and COVID-19 were associated with high GC exposure and, similarly but weaker, with any exposure. High exposure to GCs was associated with increased deaths caused by stroke and myocardial infarction. Patients on oral GC treatment prior to COVID-19 have increased mortality, particularly from pulmonary embolism, sepsis and COVID-19.

Category: Health

Funder: Hjärt-Lungfonden

Funder: VR

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38490654

DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080640

Crossref 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080640

pmc: PMC10946357
pii: bmjopen-2023-080640

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