Nutricia, part of world-leading food, beverage and nutrition company Danone, announces it is supporting research by independent medical professionals to define guidelines for nutritional care for Covid-19 patients recovering after ICU discharge. Beginning with a research project in Italy, over the coming weeks, further clinician-initiated research projects in 16 countries around the world will be supported by Nutricia with grants totaling approximately EUR 1 million. Nutricia is also supporting healthcare organizations in different countries through the donation of medical nutrition products enriched with calories and proteins, designed to help patients recovering from a severe illness, such as Covid-19, regain lost weight and strength.
The symptoms, characteristics and treatment options of the Covid-19 disease are becoming increasingly understood as the global pandemic progresses. Still, the rehabilitation requirements for those who have overcome severe Covid-19 infections in ICU are not yet as widely known. The average duration of stay in ICUs (in the US and Europe) is generally two days. However, critically ill Covid-19 patients may be admitted to ICUs for as long as two weeks.
ICU patients can lose as much as a kilogram of muscle mass per day, so an elongated stay can severely deplete muscle mass, strength and resilience. Loss of lean body mass can lead to significant effects, including impaired immune function, overall weakness, development of wounds or pressure ulcers and even increased mortality rates. As a result, people leave the hospital weakened, sometimes hardly able to undergo rehabilitation programs and unable to perform the activities of daily living like personal hygiene, preparing and eating food or going outside for a walk.
There is currently limited Covid-19 specific guidance on nutritional care after hospital discharge to address the needs of recovering COVID-19 patients. Riccardo Caccialanza, head of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Unit at the IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation, Pavia (Italy), is one of the first medical experts globally to begin research into the impact of nutrition and physical exercise in regaining functional ability and improving quality of life as patients start their recovery from COVID-19 at home. Caccialanza, who has the first-hand experience in overseeing the nutritional care for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, is now signaling the need to continue nutritional support as patients recover after hospital discharge. He comments, “In Italy so far we have seen the complications related to this loss of lean body mass can lead to lengthier patient recovery times – and this requires more resources from already stretched healthcare systems. There is a need for clinical guidance to optimize patients’ recovery and help them regain the ability to perform day-to-day tasks at home. Patients need to have the strength and energy to do those things that matter most to them.”
Patrick Kamphuis, senior medical affairs director at Nutricia, commented, “As with many other severe illnesses, discharge from hospital after a Covid-19 infection is only the start of recovery; and unfortunately, the importance of adapted nutrition and exercise in the recovery process is often under estimated. Through these grants for independent research by healthcare professionals, and medical nutrition product donations to healthcare organizations, we hope to contribute to patient recovery from Covid-19 and support healthcare systems across the world in delivering better care outcomes.”
Nutricia’s Covid-19 support initiatives include ongoing education programs by and for healthcare professionals about the role of nutrition in patient care and recovery, as well as support resources for patients and carers.
Nutricia is part of Danone that has taken radical measures to protect its employees’ safety, support its trading partners, and strengthen the resilience of its value chain. Danone has provided financial support to partners in its ecosystems, such as farmers, suppliers and smaller customers, and has also extended help to healthcare organizations in many countries around the world to address the major health consequences this unprecedented situation creates. This latest support initiative by Nutricia for healthcare professionals is in addition to local aid efforts initiated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These have included donations of medical nutrition products or personal protective equipment to healthcare organizations in need of support.