Every day we learn more about covid-19 and the way it affects our bodies. One of the more recent discoveries is the unexpected link between Covid-19 and vertebral fractures.
According to a team of scientists from the San Raffaele Vita-Salute University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital, patients with Covid-19 and vertebral fractures are twice as likely to die from the disease.
A vertebral fracture occurs when one of the bony blocks in our spines collapses, leading to agonizing pain, deformities, and even a loss of height. This issue is often caused by health problems such as osteoporosis (brittle, weak bones), which is common for many elderly people.
In the study, Milano scientists examined the x-rays of 114 patients infected with the coronavirus. They found evidence of thoracic vertebral fractures in ~35% of them. This is fairly in line with the percentage of vertebral fractures in elderly adults which varies between 25% and 40% according to other studies.
Covid-19 can lead to an increase in cardiorespiratory problems and overall disease outcomes in patients with pre-existing vertebral fractures.
So, the study determined that such patients were more likely to require extensive hospitalization and ventilators. More crucially, they were also twice more likely to die of Covid-19 or related complications than patients with no vertebral fractures. The death rate was even higher for patients with severe fractures.
What can be done about this?
The team says a simple thoracic x-ray can detect these fractures and morphometric evaluation should be performed in COVID-19 patients at hospital admission. Doing so can help decrease any risks of further health problems.
This research adds vertebral fractures to an already long list of pre-existing medical conditions that lead to increased Covid-19 complications and mortality rates.
Some of the biggest offenders up until now have been diabetes, various types of cancers, chronic kidney disease, pregnancy, smoking, Sickle cell disease, many different heart conditions such as cardiomyopathies, coronary artery disease, heart failure, etc.
The evidence for all these conditions worsening the effects of Covid-19 and vice versa has been piling on for about a year and the latest San Raffaele study is just one more nail on the coffin/myth that Covid-19 is “just a flu.”