Maggio Giugno 2021

Frailty score before admission as risk factor for mortality of renal patients during the first wave of the COVID pandemic in London


Background: Frailty is a known predictor of mortality and poor outcomes during hospital admission. In this large renal retrospective cohort study, we investigated whether frailer COVID-19 positive renal patients had worse outcomes.

Design: All SARS-Cov-2 positive renal patients aged ≥18 years who presented to the emergency department at the Royal Free Hospital or at the satellite dialysis centres from 10th of March until the 10th of May 2020, with recent data on frailty, were included. The follow up was until 26th of May 2020. Age, gender, ethnicity, body mass index, chronic kidney disease stage, modality of renal replacement therapy, co-morbidities, Rockwood clinical frailty score (CFS), C reactive protein and the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte count were collected at presentation. The primary outcome was the overall mortality rate following COVID-19 diagnosis. Secondary outcomes included the need for hospital admission.

Results: A total of 200 renal patients were SARS-Cov-2 positive. In the 174 patients who had a CFS recorded, the age was 65.4 years ± 15.8 (mean ± SD) and 57,5% were male. At the end of follow up, 26% had died. Frail patients (CFS 5-7) were more than three times more likely to die compared to less frail patients (CFS of 1-4) (odds ratio (OR) 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-10.6). 118 patients (68%) required admission, but there was no difference in hospital admission rates for frail vs non-frail patients (OR 0.6, CI 0.3-1.7).

Conclusions: Frailty is a better predictor of mortality than age and co-morbidities in COVID-19 positive renal patients.

Keywords: frailty, renal patients, SARS-Cov-2

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Frailty is defined as a biologic syndrome of decreased reserve and resistance to stressors, resulting from cumulative declines across multiple physiologic systems and causing vulnerability to adverse outcomes [1].

In a recent systematic review of 32 articles (36,076 participants) the prevalence of frailty ranged from 7% in chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages 1-4 up to 73% in patients on haemodialysis and was associated with increased risk of mortality and hospitalisation [2].

Frailty is not only a challenge for the elderly on renal replacement therapy (RRT). In a prospective cohort of 146 haemodialysis patients, 56.2% were younger than 65 years and 35% were frail, described as a combination of weight loss, weakness, exhaustion and slowed walking speed. In the whole cohort, frailty was associated with a higher risk of death, 2.60-fold (95% CI: 1.04-6.49, P=0.041), and a higher chance of hospitalisation [3]. Clinical frailty scale (CFS) is a clinical scale ranging from one (very fit) up to nine (terminally ill) [4].

In the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline for COVID-19 positive patients, the use of CFS is recommended to guide the decision-making process on whether to admit a patient to the intensive care unit or not [5]. According to this guideline, frailty score was associated with in-hospital mortality in a retrospective cohort of 1564 patients [6].

The CFS has been recorded since 2016 for the renal patients at the Royal Free Hospital, so frailty data were available for most patients admitted with COVID-19 infection. The aim of this study was to determine whether preexisting frailty was a risk factor for hospital admissions and mortality in renal patients in the first wave of the COVID pandemic.


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