Medical journal study looks at COVID-19's long-term effects

Covid-19 patients’ symptoms persist six months in foreboding study

According to the Wuhan-based study, more than three-quarters of COVID-19 patients reported at least one ongoing symptom.

"Our work also underscores the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations in order to understand the full spectrum of effects that Covid-19 can have on people".

They said longer term multidisciplinary research being conducted in the United States and Britain would help improve understanding and help develop therapies to "mitigate the long-term consequences of Covid-19 on multiple organs and tissues".

In the study, the scientists interviewed the hospitalised patients using questionnaires to assess their symptoms and health-related quality of life.

The scientists said 13% of patients whose kidney function was normal while in hospital had reduced kidney function in follow-up.

The new study included 1,733 Covid-19 patients discharged from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May previous year. The discharged patients also underwent physical examinations, lab tests, and a six-minute walking test to gauge their endurance levels.

An Irish woman was taken to the hospital after she started developing blood clots after contracting COVID-19.

Covid-19 severity was rated on a scale of least to most severe disease: 1 - not admitted to the hospital; 2 - not hospitalized but unable to perform normal activities; 3 - hospitalized, but not requiring supplemental oxygen; 4 - hospitalized requiring supplemental oxygen; 5 - hospitalized, requiring high-flow nasal cannula, non-invasive ventilation or both; 6 - hospitalized requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, invasive mechanical ventilation or both; 7 - death.

Almost 400 patients also underwent further tests, including an assessment of their lung function, and 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection received a follow-up test. This raised concerns of possible reinfection, the study noted.

"We're seeing in our post-COVID recovery clinics that people are coming in with cardiomyopathy and neuropathies and cognitive changes". Follow-up visits were done, and the median follow-up time was 186 days.

Since very few follow-up studies have been conducted in recovered patients so far, the scientists said little is known about the long-term health effects of COVID-19. And he's seen similar issues among patients at his hospital.

As for dealing with anxiety or depression, which was reported among 23 percent of patients in the study, Huang suggested psychological therapy including counseling, as these mental issues may be the result of the neurological effects of the disease as well as societal misunderstanding and stigmatization.

Funding for this research was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the National Key Research and Development Program of China and others.

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