New Russian study reveals benefits of nutritional support in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

A clinical trial conducted in Russia examined the impact of medical nutrition for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. It shows a positive impact on physical strength and quality of life as well as reduced length of hospital stay. These new findings highlight the value of medical nutrition to support recovery from COVID-19.

As the pandemic unfolds it has become clear that malnutrition is prevalent in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, especially those who are hospitalized over a longer period of time and admitted in intensive care units1. During and after discharge patients can experience a loss of appetite and their ability to swallow can be impaired which can result in reduced food intake.  This combined  with the impact of the disease (inflammation) and being bed-ridden during hospitalization leads to muscle loss, contributing to prolonged weakness and impaired physical function after discharge2.

The interventional study was led by Prof. Sviridov, the President of the Russian Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. It assessed how medical nutrition intervention can help to address these challenges in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and receiving respiratory support. 

The study included 185 patients divided into two groups, one of which received the standard hospital diet and on discharge, regular home-cooked meals. The second group received high protein nutritional support (two 200 ml bottles per day) for the duration of 28 days in addition to the standard hospital diets and to the home-cooked meals after discharge.

The study results revealed that compared to patients receiving only standard hospital diet, the patients receiving medical nutrition as part of their care program:

  • Showed a significant improvement in rehabilitation potential reflected in a significant improvement in hand strength at discharge compared to the measurement at inclusion in the study.
  • Had significantly higher physical health scores within/based on quality of life assessment.
  • Had shorter periods of respiratory support during hospitalization (by 1.4 days).
  • Had a shorter hospital stay (by 3.3 days).

"For my part, I am fully convinced that nutritional support should be included in methodological and clinical guidelines, as well as in the standards of management of patients with COVID-19 at all stages of treatment, from hospital to recovery at home."

Principal investigator, Prof. Sviridov

This study was supported by Nutricia as part of the NutriCOVer program, an initiative by Nutricia to support independent research on nutrition and COVID-19, contributing to the generation of real-world evidence and clinical guidance for the nutritional management of patients recovering from severe COVID-19 infection.

  1. Pironi L, et al. Malnutrition and nutritional therapy in patients with SARS-CoV-2 disease Clin Nutr.2020; S0261-5614(20)30437-4
  2. Belli S, et al. Low physical functioning and impaired performance of activities of daily life in COVID-19 patients who survived hospitalisation. Eur Respir J. 2020;56(4):2002096

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