The coronavirus infection causes the disease COVID-19 and its sequelae cause another syndrome, which is already recognized as long-term or post-COVID COVID-19. It develops in people who have had confirmed or probable coronavirus infection. Now it was discovered that even two years later, most people who were hospitalized with coronavirus early in the pandemic had persistent symptomsaccording to a new study that may be one of the longest and largest on record in tracking people with the problem.
Research on people who had prolonged COVID was carried out in China, the country where the first cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed. The study was published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
The scientists also found that 55% of patients still had at least one symptom of COVID-19 two years later. This is actually an improvement over six months after infection, when 68% had symptoms.
Researchers at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital examined the records of 1,192 people who had been hospitalized at Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, Chinaand who were discharged between January 7 and May 29, 2020.
The researchers followed up at six months, 12 months and two years after the patients were discharged and asked them for their subjective assessment of symptoms. Participants were also evaluated using more objective medical tests, such as pulmonary function tests, CT scans, and six-minute walk tests.
Overall, the participants were in worse health two years later. those who had spersistent symptoms of COVID-19 manifested pain, fatigue, sleep problems and problems with their mental health. Patients who received more respiratory support while hospitalized had more lung problems than others in the long term.
Participants with persistent symptoms also went to the doctor more often than before the pandemic. They found it more difficult to be physically active and, in general, reported a worse quality of life. Most returned to work, but it is not clear if they did so at the same level as before they became ill.
In the mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort and 19% had anxiety or depression. The proportion of COVID-19 patients without long-standing COVID who reported these symptoms was 10% and 4% at two years, respectively. Long-COVID participants also more frequently reported problems with mobility (5%) or activity levels (4%) than those without the syndrome (1% and 2%, respectively).
Participants in the long-term COVID program used health care services more frequently after discharge, with 26% reporting an outpatient visit compared to 11% of non-PostCovid participants. At 17%, hospitalization among participants with prolonged COVID was greater than 10% of the control group.
Study co-author, Dr. Bin Cao of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital said he hopes research encourages doctors to ask follow-up questions of their patients who had coronavirus, even years after their initial infection. “There is a clear need to provide ongoing support to a significant proportion of people who have had Covid-19 and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments and variants affect long-term health outcomes,” Cao said in a statement. of press.
The study has some limitations. The researchers did not compare the results with people who were hospitalized for problems other than COVID-19 to see if they also had persistent symptoms. They compared the hospitalized group with people in the community who never had Covid-19. That group also had health problems a year later, but that happened in only half as many people as in the hospitalized group.
Another limitation was that the research was carried out in a single hospital, so the results may not be universal for all hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At the beginning of the pandemic, patients used to stay in the hospital longer than now, which could influence the duration of symptoms. Because the research was done early in the pandemic, it’s not clear if there would be similar results in people who got sick with variants of the coronavirus that emerged later or in those who had been vaccinated.
“The only thing I know I can safely offer long-term COVID patients is vaccination”, he told the network CNN Dr. Devang Sanghavi of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, who was not involved in the study. “When we compare unvaccinated patients to vaccinated patients and look at the incidence of long-term COVID symptoms, vaccinated patients have less severe symptoms and are less likely to have long-term COVID,” he stated.
Like the study authors in China, Sanghavi hopes that the study serves to make policymakers realize the importance of financing research on long Covid and of creating infrastructures to better care for patients with long Covid. There could be millions of people with long Covid.
Dr. Sanghavi said that more doctors will need to be trained to know how to help people with long-term Covid. “Our health care system is not prepared for the kind of influx of patients that this disease will bring,” he warned.
consulted by Infobaethe head of pulmonology at the Posadas National Hospital in Argentina, Dr. Alejandra González, commented that regarding the possibility of developing long-term COVID disorder, the following should be taken into account: “It is not necessary for all people who have had COVID-19 to have a check-up during the months following infection. But it must be borne in mind that the consultation will depend on the severity of the COVID-19 picture, the patient’s history and the presence or persistence of symptoms.
There are many studies underway in search of the causes of post-COVID syndrome, “But in the meantime it is important to listen to the patient who suffers, rule out differential diagnoses and offer the best possible treatment,” said cardiologist Mario Boskis, from the Argentine Society of Cardiology.