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Viral infections

Smoking linked to progression of symptoms in COVID-19, study suggests

The study authors say their results could be used to further enhance the management of COVID-19 pneumonia.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

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The progression group had a significantly higher proportion of patients with a history of smoking compared to the group who had either improved or stabilised

Smoking, as well as older age, is associated with progression of COVID-19 symptoms, results from a small study published in the Chinese Medical Journal (28 February 2020) have suggested[1].

The study, based in Wuhan, China, aimed to investigate the factors affecting the progression of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients. To do this, the researchers recruited 78 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID-19-induced pneumonia.

On evaluating the patients at two weeks after admission to hospital, the researchers found that symptoms had progressed in 14% of the patients (n=11), while symptoms had either improved or stabilised in 86% (n=67) of patients.

Patients in the progression group were significantly older than those in the disease improvement/stabilisation group (median age 66 years vs. 37 years).

The progression group also had a significantly higher proportion of patients with a history of smoking compared with the other group (27.3% vs. 3.0%) which, the researchers said, suggested that smoking was associated with symptom progression in COVID-19.

The results also showed that the maximum body temperature at admission in the progression group was significantly higher than in the improvement/stabilisation group, highlighting that patients presenting with a high fever should be monitored more closely in order to avoid complications.

“These results can be used to further enhance the ability of management of COVID-19 pneumonia,” the researchers said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207890

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