Commonly reported symptoms included fatigue, shortness of breath, brain anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. (AFP)
PARIS, FRANCE –
At least one in three patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has long-term health problems, including multiple organ problems and deterioration in mental health. This comes from a review of studies that looked at the long-term effects of the disease.
The review, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, examined the frequency of symptoms in long-distance COVID-19 drivers, the most common of which are fatigue, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study’s authors said the data indicated an underestimated health emergency that governments needed to investigate and find ways to deal with.
« With the millions of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 worldwide, the long-term costs of physical, cognitive and mental health aspects remain to be seen, » said senior author Kartik Sehgal, a medical oncologist at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said AFP.
While severe COVID-19 infects patients’ lungs and leaves many with long-term breathing problems, studies have shown the virus attacks other organs as well, leading to a variety of complications, including cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation >
Sehgal and colleagues reviewed nine long-term studies from Europe, the US, and China and found that several patients reported multiple organ problems months after they were discharged from the hospital.
Overall, they found that 30 percent of the patients examined reported at least one symptom such as fatigue, shortness of breath and psychiatric illness.
A study in Italy of 143 patients found that almost 90 percent reported persistent symptoms 60 days after recovery from the initial COVID-19 infection.
The most common symptoms were fatigue (53.1 percent), shortness of breath (43.4 percent), joint pain (27.3 percent) and chest pain (21.7 percent).
Three studies from France, the UK and China showed that 25 to 30 percent of patients reported having trouble sleeping weeks after recovering from COVID-19.
And about 20 percent of the patients had reported hair loss according to the results of several studies.
In a cohort of 402 survivors in Italy one month after their hospitalization, 56 percent tested positive for at least one psychiatric illness such as PTSD, depression or anxiety.
The authors said that around 30 percent of patients had developed PTSD after hospitalization with COVID-19.
« It is important not to forget about the psychological effects of Long-COVID-19 while paying attention to the physical symptoms as these can be easily overlooked, » said Sehgal, who is also an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers called for further investigation into COVID-19 and the establishment of clinics to treat people with persistent, life-changing symptoms.
Sehgal said he hoped the research showed that just surviving COVID-19 is not necessarily a satisfactory health outcome.
« While preventing death remains the primary goal, realizing the multi-organ morbidity of COVID-19 is also important, » he said.
« The medical needs of patients with COVID-19 do not stop by the time they are discharged from hospital, nor do they necessarily stop after three to four weeks. »
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