Massachusetts General Hospital

MGH Study: Blood Test Could Predict Death Risk in Coronavirus Cases

A simple blood test can tell doctors if a COVID-19 patient has an increased risk of dying, researchers found

Ambulances pull up to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on April 20, 2020.
Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A blood test could determine whether coronavirus patients have a higher risk of dying, a new study shows.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that a routine test to measure blood cells, called red blood cell distribution width (RDW), is associated with an increased risk of death among COVID-19 patients.

Patients whose levels were higher than normal had a mortality risk of 31%, compared to those with below-average levels at 11%.

The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, measured RDW in 1,641 coronavirus patients over the age of 18 being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, North Shore Medical Center and Newton-Wellesley Hospital between March 4 and April 28.

The study concluded that in that group of patients, "RDW measured at admission and during hospitalization was associated with a statistically significant increase in mortality. RDW is a routine laboratory test that may be useful in risk stratification of hospitalized patients with COVID-19."

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