Undiagnosed comorbidities among individuals hospitalised with COVID-19 in South African public hospitals

Authors

  • W Jassat National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Right to Care, Pretoria, South Africa
  • C Mudara National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • C Vika National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • M Dryden National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • M Masha National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Right to Care, Pretoria, South Africa
  • T Arendse National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • MJ Groome National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • H Moultrie National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • F Ismail National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • L Mvusi National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
  • S Singh National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
  • B Sayed National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
  • A Parker Tygerberg Hospital and Division of General Medicine, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
  • J Black Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University and Livingstone Hospital, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
  • S Potgieter Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • C Cohen National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • L Blumberg National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Right to Care, Pretoria, South Africa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.2022.v112i9.16417

Keywords:

Diabetes, Covid-19, Obesity

Abstract

Background. Previous studies have reported comorbid disease, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, chronic cardiac and renal disease, malignancy, HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and obesity, to be associated with COVID‑19 mortality. National demographic surveys have reported a high proportion of undiagnosed and untreated comorbid disease in South Africa (SA).
Objectives. To determine the number of individuals with previously undiagnosed HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among patients hospitalised with COVID‑19, and the level of medical control of these chronic diseases.
Methods. We conducted a sentinel surveillance study to collect enhanced data on HIV, TB and NCDs among individuals with COVID‑19 admitted to 16 secondary-level public hospitals in six of the nine provinces of SA. Trained surveillance officers approached all patients who met the surveillance case definition for inclusion in the study, and consenting patients were enrolled. The data collection instrument included questions on past medical history to determine the self-reported presence of comorbidities. The results of clinical and laboratory testing introduced as part of routine clinical care for hospitalised COVID‑19 patients were collected for the study, to objectively determine the presence of hypertension, diabetes, HIV and TB and the levels of control of diabetes and HIV.
Results. On self-reported history, the most prevalent comorbidities were hypertension (n=1 658; 51.5%), diabetes (n=855; 26.6%) and HIV (n=603; 18.7%). The prevalence of self-reported active TB was 3.1%, and that of previous TB 5.5%. There were 1 254 patients admitted with COVID‑19 (39.0%) who met the body mass index criteria for obesity. On clinical and laboratory testing, 87 patients were newly diagnosed with HIV, 29 with TB, 215 with diabetes and 40 with hypertension during their COVID‑19 admission. There were 151/521 patients living with HIV (29.0%) with a viral load >1 000 copies/mL and 309/570 (54.2%) with a CD4 count <200 cells/μL. Among 901 patients classified as having diabetes, 777 (86.2%) had a glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) level ≥6.5%.
Conclusion. The study revealed a high prevalence of comorbid conditions among individuals with COVID‑19 admitted to public hospitals in SA. In addition, a significant number of patients had previously undiagnosed hypertension, diabetes, HIV and active TB, and many and poorly controlled chronic disease, as evidenced by high HbA1c levels in patients with diabetes, and high viral loads and low CD4 levels in patients with HIV. The findings highlight the importance of strengthening health systems and care cascades for chronic disease management, which include prevention, screening for and effectively treating comorbidities, and ensuring secure and innovative supplies of medicines in primary healthcare during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

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Published

2022-08-30

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Section

Research

How to Cite

1.
Jassat W, Mudara C, Vika C, Dryden M, Masha M, Arendse T, et al. Undiagnosed comorbidities among individuals hospitalised with COVID-19 in South African public hospitals. S Afr Med J [Internet]. 2022 Aug. 30 [cited 2024 Jul. 14];112(9):747-52. Available from: https://samajournals.co.za/index.php/samj/article/view/124

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