The long-term health consequences of COVID-19 remain unclear. To date, the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 91 million confirmed cases and 1.9 million deaths worldwide.
However, despite everything that was learned in the last year about the new infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), There are still many uncertainties to reveal, including what happens in the long term with persistent symptoms in recovered patients.
Now a new study conducted in Wuhan, China, sought to describe the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 patients who were discharged from the hospital and investigate associated risk factors, in particular the severity of the disease.
“Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patient health“Dr. Bin Cao, from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, who led the study team, said in a statement.
“The epidemiological and clinical characteristics, pathogenesis, and complications of patients with COVID-19 in the acute phase were explicitly described, but the long-term consequences of the disease remain unclear,” the researchers say in the journal publication. The Lancet.
The investigation is the largest of its kind carried out so far and showed that 76% of patients (1,265 of 1,655) reported at least one symptom during follow-up and a higher percentage was observed in women. The most common symptoms after discharge were fatigue or muscle weakness in 1,038 out of 1,655 patients (63%) and difficulty sleeping in 437 of 1655 (26%). In addition, 23% (367 of 1617) of the participants reported anxiety or depression during follow-up, it was more common in women.
“Long-term follow-up studies on persistent symptoms, lung function, physical and psychological problems in discharged patients are urgently required,” the researchers insisted. Only a few studies with a limited sample size have been published, with the longest follow-up duration of three months after hospital discharge ”.
Some persistent symptoms such as fatigue and dyspnea, altered lung function, and chest imaging abnormalities have been reported in patients after discharge from hospital, but the full spectrum of post-discharge characteristics is still unknown. Furthermore, no study to date has yet reported on extrapulmonary organ manifestations that may persist after damage in the acute stage or are new on discharge after discharge.
For the study, in total, 1,733 of 2,469 patients discharged with COVID-19 were enrolled after excluding 736. The patients had a median age of 57 years and 897 (52%) were male. The follow-up study was conducted from June 16 to September 3, 2020, and the median follow-up time after the onset of symptoms was 186 days.
In addition, the researchers found that patients who were more severely ill during their hospital stay had more severely impaired lung diffusion capabilities and abnormal chest imaging manifestations, and are the main target population for long-term recovery intervention.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain as long-term symptoms. term most commonly reported. Others, such as difficulty thinking and concentrating, known as “brain fog,” depression and headaches, are also reported among those who had long ago had coronavirus.
“While most people with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, some patients may have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovering from an acute illness,” the CDC assures. Even people who are not hospitalized and have mild illness can experience persistent symptoms or late symptoms.”.
A study published in the journal British Medical Journal By August, he had already realized that around 10% of patients had a prolonged illness from COVID-19 lasting more than 12 weeks.
But the Chinese study is the largest, with the longest duration of follow-up, to investigate the long-term impact on discharged patients, according to its authors.