African Americans, people with type 2 diabetes, kidney disease at higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization: study

By Xu Jing

CHICAGO, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Black patients are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than white patients with similar underlying health and socioeconomic conditions, according to a study posted on the website of University of Michigan (UM) on Wednesday.

The study also found that having type 2 diabetes or kidney disease and living in high-population density areas are associated with higher risk for COVID-19 hospitalization.

Using electronic health data from Michigan Medicine hospitals, UM researchers looked at a cohort of 5,698 patients tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 10 and April 22. A group of randomly selected untested individuals were included for comparison.

The researchers examined factors such as race/ethnicity, age, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index and residential-level socioeconomic characteristics. They also compared comorbidities such as circulatory disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

"We were able to connect the geocoded residence to census tract data to derive these residential variables, which was a new aspect of our study," said Tian Gu, the study's first author and a doctoral candidate at UM's School of Public Health. "We also noticed some differences in the effect of obesity and prior cancer diagnosis having stronger association with COVID susceptibility in Black patients. On the other hand, the chances of hospitalization with overall comorbidity burden and type 2 diabetes were stronger in white patients."

"Our findings highlight that poor COVID-19 outcomes are disproportionately associated with at-risk populations: elderly adults, those with preexisting conditions and those in population-dense communities," said senior author Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at UM's School of Public Health. "We call for increased investments in testing and prevention efforts in lower socioeconomic status, densely populated and racially diverse communities. It is these same communities that are home to a greater proportion of essential workers and thus need increased testing and protection."

The study was published in the current issue of JAMA Network Open.

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