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Prior diagnoses and medications as risk factors for COVID-19 in a Los Angeles Health System

By Timothy S Chang, Yi Ding, Malika K Freund, Ruth Dolly Johnson, Tommer Schwarz, Julie M Yabu, Chad Hazlett, Jeffrey N Chiang, Ami Wulf, UCLA Health Data Mart Working Group, Daniel H. Geschwind, Manish J. Butte, Bogdan Pasaniuc

Posted 04 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.03.20145581

With the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic coupled with phased reopening, it is critical to identify risk factors associated with susceptibility and severity of disease in a diverse population to help shape government policies, guide clinical decision making, and prioritize future COVID-19 research. In this retrospective case-control study, we used de-identified electronic health records (EHR) from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Health System between March 9th, 2020 and June 14th, 2020 to identify risk factors for COVID-19 susceptibility (severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) PCR test positive), inpatient admission, and severe outcomes (treatment in an intensive care unit or intubation). Of the 26,602 individuals tested by PCR for SARS-CoV-2, 992 were COVID-19 positive (3.7% of Tested), 220 were admitted in the hospital (22% of COVID-19 positive), and 77 had a severe outcome (35% of Inpatient). Consistent with previous studies, males and individuals older than 65 years old had increased risk of inpatient admission. Notably, individuals self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino constituted an increasing percentage of COVID-19 patients as disease severity escalated, comprising 24% of those testing positive, but 40% of those with a severe outcome, a disparity that remained after correcting for medical co-morbidities. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and renal disease were premorbid risk factors present before SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing associated with COVID-19 susceptibility. Less well-established risk factors for COVID-19 susceptibility included pre-existing dementia (odds ratio (OR) 5.2 [3.2-8.3], p=2.6 x 10-10), mental health conditions (depression OR 2.1 [1.6-2.8], p=1.1 x 10-6) and vitamin D deficiency (OR 1.8 [1.4-2.2], p=5.7 x 10-6). Renal diseases including end-stage renal disease and anemia due to chronic renal disease were the predominant premorbid risk factors for COVID-19 inpatient admission. Other less established risk factors for COVID-19 inpatient admission included previous renal transplant (OR 9.7 [2.8-39], p=3.2x10-4) and disorders of the immune system (OR 6.0 [2.3, 16], p=2.7x10-4). Prior use of oral steroid medications was associated with decreased COVID-19 positive testing risk (OR 0.61 [0.45, 0.81], p=4.3x10-4), but increased inpatient admission risk (OR 4.5 [2.3, 8.9], p=1.8x10-5). We did not observe that prior use of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers increased the risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, being admitted to the hospital, or having a severe outcome. This study involving direct EHR extraction identified known and less well-established demographics, and prior diagnoses and medications as risk factors for COVID-19 susceptibility and inpatient admission. Knowledge of these risk factors including marked ethnic disparities observed in disease severity should guide government policies, identify at-risk populations, inform clinical decision making, and prioritize future COVID-19 research.

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