Having a loved one go into a coma as a result of a severe COVID-19 infection can be a terrifying, anxiety-inducing, experience, but the patient’s odds for survival are higher than likely believed, a new study finds.
A joint research team from Cornell University, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital found that 70 percent of patient who are put into a coma when placed on a ventilator for sever Covid symptoms end up surviving the virus.
The findings demonstrate how low the mortality rate of Covid is, even early in the pandemic before many of the treatments available now had been discovered.
Experts are also highlighting the fact that these findings should reduce anxiety among family members, because was feels like a moment where a miracle is needed for survival actually has much better odds than expected.
Researchers found that a person placed into a coma and onto a ventilator for COVID-19 treatment is 72% likely to eventually recover, a much higher rate than many people may expect. Pictured: Nurses care for Covid patients in Apple Valley, California, on March 11
‘It gives nurses and physicians the confidence to tell families, ‘look this can take several weeks,’ Dr Daiwai Olson, a neurology professor at the University of Texas in Austin told the Boston Globe.
‘We have had moms want to stay at the bed side, and we can tell them go home and take a shower, it may take three weeks’ for the patient to regain consciousness.’
Researchers, who published their findings in the Annals of Neurology, gathered data from 795 patients from hospitals in the New York City and Boston area during the first two waves of the pandemic, from March to July 2020.
While now, doctors have an arsenal of treatments, tools and two years of experience to lean on when treating the virus, the virus was still novel during the study period and had caught the world by surprise.
Of the study group, 571 patients survived, or 72 percent.
The median recovery time was 30 days, though each individual day that required a coma slightly decreased a person’s likelihood of survival.
Some experts are also hopeful that family members will come across these findings when deciding whether to pull a family member off of life support.
Generally, a loved one does not want someone to spend an extender period of time in a vegetated state, and would instead want their body to be able to rest.
There is also a finality to pulling someone off of life-support that can allow the family to start the grief process.
There is always the fear of making the call too prematurely, though, and this study provides reason to believe there is value in
‘The underlying message [from this study] is simple: If you give people enough time most, but not all, people who have severe COVID will ultimately recover consciousness,’ Dr Brian Edlow, a co-senior author and neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Globe.
‘We found that in the past, if the patients came in with post cardiac arrest, people thought the prognosis was universally poor, but we have learned that waiting longer [for them to wake up] is the way to go,’ Dr Jose Suarez, of Johns Hopkins University, said.
This study was also performed very early in the pandemic, where doctors knew less about the virus, how to treat it, and how to act in specific situations for each patient.
A study published earlier this month by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that patients treated at Covid-specific facilities were more likely to survive than those treated at regular hospitals.
Experts attributed these findings to the experience a doctor gains over time treating patients with the same virus repeatedly.
‘COVID-19–dedicated hospitals had multiple benefits, including providing high-volume repetitive treatment and isolating patients with the infection,’ researchers wrote.
‘This experience suggests improved in-hospital mortality for patients treated at dedicated hospitals owing to improved processes of care and supports the use of establishing cohorts for future pandemics.’
Now with two years under their belt, and effective monoclonal antibody and oral treatments, the likelihood of survival in hospitals is likely even higher.