High cortisol levels associated with greater risk of death f
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COVID-19 patients with extremely high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood are more likely to deteriorate quickly and die, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Our cortisol levels when healthy and resting are 100-200 nm/L and nearly zero when we sleep. When ill patients have low levels of cortisol, it can be life threatening. Excessive levels of cortisol during illness can be equally dangerous, leading to increased risk of infection and poor outcomes.

In the new observational study of 535 patients, of whom 403 were confirmed to have COVID-19, cortisol levels in patients with COVID-19 were significantly higher than in those without. The levels in the COVID-19 group ranged as high as 3241—considerably higher even than after major surgery, when levels can top 1000.

Amongst the COVID-19 patients, those with a baseline cortisol level of 744 or less survived on average for 36 days. Patients with levels over 744 had an average survival of just 15 days.

From an endocrinologist's perspective, it makes sense that those COVID-19 patients who are the sickest will have higher levels of cortisol, but these levels are worryingly high, said researchers.

Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(20)30216-3/fulltext
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