Half of hospitalized coronavirus patients show symptoms 4 months after discharge, study finds


Among COVID-19 patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory infection, lung and functional impairments were found in half of them four months after discharge.

Many coronavirus patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory infection show significant respiratory, functional and psychological symptoms four months after discharge from hospital, a recent research article find.

Gary Rogg, MD, attending physician in internal medicine and co-director of Post-COVID-19 recovery program at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, says “long-haul” coronaviruses can exhibit a range of long-term symptoms. These symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, heart problems, constitutional symptoms such as numbness and tingling, deconditioning, and hair loss.

The recent research article, published by JAMA network open, presents data collected from 219 patients at a university hospital in northern Italy. The researchers measured lung damage, functional impairment, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The measure of lung function impairment was based on the lung’s carbon monoxide diffusion capacity (DLCO). Impaired lung function was considered to be present if the DLCO level was less than 80% of the expected value. Severe impairment of lung function was considered to be present if the DLCO level was less than 60% of the expected value.

Functional impairment was assessed using the Short physical performance battery score and a two-minute walk test. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder were assessed using the Impact of Event Scale – Revised total score.

The study generated several key data points:

  • DLCO was less than 80% of expected value in 51.6% of patients
  • DLCO was less than 60% of expected value in 15.5% of patients
  • Functional impairment was found in 53.8% of patients
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder were found in 17.2% of patients

“We found that a significant proportion of COVID-19 survivors presented with respiratory or functional failure four months after discharge from hospital, with clinically relevant psychological consequences,” wrote the study co-authors.

Among hospital patients with severe acute respiratory infection, long-haul coronaviruses are relatively common, lead study author said Health leaders.

“In our study, we confirmed that a relevant proportion of patients still complain of symptoms of COVID-19 months after the acute phase of their illness. The most common symptoms were fatigue and reduced exercise tolerance. “said Mattia Bellan, MD, PhD, Department of Translational Medicine, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.

The severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms after discharge from hospital pose challenges for many patients and require further research, Bellan said. “These symptoms have an impact on the quality of life of these patients because they often have the impression of being generally sick. The persistence of these sequelae over time is a major public health issue that must be assessed in the future.

Related: Coronavirus ‘Long-Haul’ Care Model

Christopher Cheney is the editor of clinical care at HealthLeaders.


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