ESPEN expert statements and practical guidance for nutritional management of individuals with SARS-Cov-2 infection
The COVID-19 pandemics is posing unprecedented challenges and threats to patients and healthcare systems worldwide. Acute respiratory complications that require intensive care unit (ICU) management are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Patients with worst outcomes and higher mortality are reported to include immunocompromised subjects, namely older adults and polymorbid individuals and malnourished people in general. ICU stay, polymorbidity and older age are all commonly associated with high risk for malnutrition, representing per se a relevant risk factor for higher morbidity and mortality in chronic and acute disease. Also importantly, prolonged ICU stays are reported to be required for COVID-19 patients stabilization, and longer ICU stay may per se directly worsen or cause malnutrition, with severe loss of skeletal muscle mass and function which may lead to disability, poor quality of life and additional morbidity. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition should therefore be routinely included in the management of COVID-19 patients. In the current document, the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) aims at providing concise guidance for nutritional management of COVID-19 patients by proposing 10 practical recommendations. The practical guidance is focused to those in the ICU setting or in the presence of older age and polymorbidity, which are independently associated with malnutrition and its negative impact on patient survival.