Intensive Care for COVID-19

Friday 5 April 2024, 10:30 am
PhD student
E.J. Kooistra
prof. dr. R.P. Pickkers
dr. M. Kox

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Intensive Care Units (ICUs) worldwide were filled with patients with COVID-19. This thesis highlights various aspects of COVID-19 in ICU patients, from obesity to biomarkers and medications affecting the immune system. Our research contributes to a better understanding of this complex disease. Obesity is a known risk factor for developing severe COVID-19. However, our studies indicate that obesity does not influence survival once patients are admitted to the ICU. Nevertheless, patients with severe obesity experience more mental and physical complaints one year after their ICU admission compared to patients with normal weight. Another important finding is that the biomarkers CRP and procalcitonin have lost their value for detecting secondary (bacterial) infections since the introduction of immunosuppressive medication (dexamethasone, tocilizumab) as standard treatment for severe COVID-19. Finally, we describe the effects of various medications that influence the immune system in COVID-19 patients in the ICU. For example, the immunosuppressive agent anakinra improved inflammatory markers, and the immune-enhancing drug interferon-gamma led to better virus clearance.

Emma Kooistra (1995) obtained her medical degree from Radboud University in 2020 and started her doctoral research on the course of COVID-19 in the  intensive care unit at Radboudumc. Thereafter, she spent one year doing clinical work in the Department of Internal Medicine at Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital. Currently, she is conducting research on sustainability in acute care.