Patel HK, Kovacic R, Chandrasekar VT, Patel SC, Singh M, Le Cam E, Burton JH, Ray A, Shah JN
Background We aimed to understand the association of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms at initial presentation with clinical outcomes during COVID-19 hospitalization. Methods This retrospective, multicenter cohort study included consecutive hospitalized COVID-19 patients from a single, large health system. The presence of GI symptoms was assessed at initial presentation and included one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Patients were divided into three cohorts: Only GI symptoms, GI and non-GI symptoms and only non-GI symptoms. The primary outcome was association of GI symptoms with mortality. Secondary outcomes included prevalence of GI symptoms and survival analysis. Results A total of 1672 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized (mean age: 63 +/- 15.8 years, females: 50.4%) in our system during the study period. 40.7% patients had at least one GI symptom (diarrhea in 28.3%, nausea/vomiting in 23%, and abdominal pain in 8.8% patients), and 2.6% patients had only GI symptoms at initial presentation. Patients presenting with GI symptoms (with or without non-GI symptoms) had a lower mortality rate compared to patients presenting with only non-GI symptoms (20% vs. 26%; p < 0.05). The time from hospitalization to being discharged was less for patients presenting with only GI symptoms (7.4 days vs. > 9 days, p < 0.0014). After adjusting for other factors, the presence of GI symptoms was not associated with mortality (p > 0.05). Conclusion Among a hospitalized COVID-19 positive Southern US population, 41% patients presented with either diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain initially. The presence of GI symptoms has no association with in-hospital all-cause mortality.