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46% of Covid patients have liver damage: Study

MUMBAI: Covid-19 not only caused respiratory and cardiovascular complications, but also had a significant effect on the liver, a new study by BYL Nair Hospital has uncovered.

The research, based on one of the largest data sets of Covid patients, found up to 46% of patients had liver abnormalities caused by the virus itself, the overuse of experimental and potentially dangerous drugs early in the pandemic, and critically low oxygen levels.

Nair Hospital’s gastroenterology department retrospectively studied the reports of 1,474 out of 3,280 screened and found that patients with liver function abnormalities were more likely to develop severe disease and death.

“The findings underline that the liver also took a huge hit, like the lungs and heart,” said Dr Pravin Rathi, gastroenterologist and dean of Nair Hospital. According to him, abnormal liver function tests could serve as a marker to predict disease severity and chances of ICU hospitalisations in coronavirus patients. For instance, patients with SGOT (blood test that’s part of liver profiles) of over 50 went on to have severe outcomes.

The study found that up to 8% of patients had acute liver injury, of which 4.3% presented with it at the time of admission. Of the 1,474 patient reports studied, 681 had abnormal liver function tests, and 793 had normal levels. In the group with abnormal liver function tests, 28% died, compared to 13% in the group with normal liver function tests. It also reiterated the correlation between patients with diabetes, advanced age, pre-existing cirrhosis, or liver disease, as well as low oxygen saturation levels at admission to a higher risk of intensive care and mortality.

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