African Americans Possessed High Prevalence of Comorbidities and Frequent Abdominal Symptoms, and Comprised A Disproportionate Share of Covid-19 Mortality among 9,873 Us-Hospitalized Patients Early in the Pandemic

Author(s): Hassan Ashktorab, Antonio Pizuorno, Lakshmi Gayathri Chirumamilla, Folake Adeleye, Maryam Mehdipour Dalivand, Zaki A. Sherif, Gholamreza Oskrochi, Suryanarayana Reddy Challa, Boubini Jones-Wonni, Sheldon Rankine, Chiamaka Ekwunazu, Abigail Banson, Rachel Kim, Chandler Gilliard, Elizabeth Ekpe, Nader Shayegh, Constance Nyaunu, Chidi Martins, Ashley Slack, Princess Okwesili, Malachi Abebe, Yashvardhan Batta, Do, Ly, Ogwo Valarie, Tori Smith, Kyra Watson, Oluwapelumi Kolawole, Sarine Tahmazian,&

Background and aim:

Identifying clinical characteristics and outcomes of different ethnicities in the US may inform treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Aim of this study is to identify predictors of mortality among US races/ethnicities.

Design, Setting and participants:

We retrospectively analyzed de-identified data from 9,873 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized at 15 US hospital centers in 11 states (March 2020-November 2020). Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was to identify predictors of mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.


Among the 9,873 patients, there were 64.1% African Americans (AA), 19.8% Caucasians, 10.4% Hispanics, and 5.7% Asians, with 50.7% female. Males showed higher in-hospital mortality (20.9% vs. 15.3%, p=0.001). Non-survivors were significantly older (67 vs. 61 years) than survivors. Patients in New York had the highest in-hospital mortality (OR=3.54 (3.03 - 4.14)). AA patients possessed higher prevalence of comorbidities, had longer hospital stay, higher ICU admission rates, increased requirement for mechanical ventilation and higher in-hospital mortality compared to other races/ethnicities. Gastrointestinal symptoms (GI), particularly diarrhea, were more common among minority patients. Among GI symptoms and laboratory findings, abdominal pain (5.3%, p=0.03), elevated AST (n=2653, 50.2%, p=<0.001, OR=2.18), bilirubin (n=577, 12.9%, p=0.01) and low albumin levels (n=361, 19.1%, p=0.03) were associated with mortality. Multivariate analysis (adjusted for age, sex, race, geographic location) indicates that patients with asthma, COPD, cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, immunocompromised status, shortness of breath and cough possess higher odds of in-hospital mortality. Among laboratory parameters, patients with lymphocytopenia (OR2=2.50), lymphocytosis (OR2=1.41), and elevations of serum CRP (OR2=4.19), CPK (OR2=1.43), LDH (OR2=2.10), troponin (OR2=2.91), ferritin (OR2=1.88), AST (OR2=2.18), D-dimer (OR2=2.75) are more prone to death. Patients on glucocorticoids (OR2=1.49) and mechanical ventilation (OR2=9.78) have higher in-hospital mortality.


These findings suggest that older age, male sex, AA race, and hospitalization in New York were associated with higher in-hospital mortality rates from COVID-19 in early pandemic stages. Other predictors of mortality included the presence of comorbidities, shortness of breath, cough elevated serum inflammatory markers, altered lymphocyte count, elevated AST, and low serum albumin. AA patients comprised a disproportionate share of COVID-19 death in the US during 2020 relative to other races/ethnicities.

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