First Results from Nutricia-Supported COVID-19 Research Initiatives Presented at ESPEN Congress
Research conducted in Catalonia, Spain, underlines the need for nutritional care of COVID-19 patients. New data presented at the 2020 ESPEN congress reveal significant nutritional challenges for patients hospitalized with a COVID-19 infection.
A prospective, observational study conducted at the Consorci Sanitari del Maresme in Catalonia, Spain, assessed the prevalence of oropharyngeal dysphagia (swallowing difficulty), malnutrition (MN) and nutritional risk of hospital patients admitted due to COVID-19. Initial trial results show that half of patients were suffering from dysphagia at hospital admission, and 2 out of 3 patients were malnourished1.
Dysphagia is associated with malnutrition and respiratory infections2, and is a risk factor for increased mortality, prolonged hospital stay and decreased functional ability3. It is a common complication in post-ICU patients, often linked to extubation. However, in this population, prevalence of dysphagia was particularly high and not only linked to ICU factors.
The research also showed, at the point of hospital discharge, approximately 1 out of 3 COVID-19 patients had lost more than 10 kg relative to their usual weight3. The lead investigator, Professor Pere Clavé, comments: “It is essential to prepare for a new wave of the pandemic, in improving protocols to provide clinical response in the management of patients with dysphagia. Rather than the current reactive approach, we need to take a proactive attitude that aims to treat those patients at risk of oropharyngeal dysphagia and malnutrition early to avoid these complications.”
Early treatment of dysphagia and malnutrition in COVID-19 patients both in the hospital as well as after discharge should include fluid thickening, texture-modified foods and nutritional support with oral nutritional supplements*. Once completed, this prospective study will also inform on patient outcomes up to 6 months after discharge.
This study was supported by Nutricia as part of the NutriCOVer program, an initiative by Nutricia to support independent research and contribute to real-world evidence about, and clinical guidance for, the nutritional management of patients recovering from severe COVID-19 infection.
*Food for special medical purposes for the dietary management of dysphagia or disease related malnutrition. Must be used under medical supervision only. For more information, please contact your healthcare professional.