Covid Patients Even After Recovery Have 1 Symptom; Some Remain in Poor Health: Lancet Study
The Lancet study shows half of the Covid patients had at least one symptom such as shortness of breath, fatigue, sleeplessness. They tend to have poorer health than general population
Even after two years of Covid-19 infection, half of patients, who were admitted to the hospital, still have at least one symptom, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
Claimed to be the longest follow-up study so far, The Lancet study found that patients recovered from Covid-19 tend to be in poorer health two years after the initial infection compared to the general population, indicating some patients need more time to recover fully.
The study followed 1,192 participants in China infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first phase of the pandemic in 2020.
While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the analysis suggests that the Covid-19 patients still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population.
“This is especially the case for participants with long Covid, who typically still have at least one symptom including fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep difficulties two years after initially falling ill,” the press release of the peer-reviewed study said.
“Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully from Covid-19,” said Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, China.
Cao, who is the lead author of the study, said the “ongoing follow-up of Covid-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long Covid, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for recovery. “There is a clear need to provide continued 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 explained.
The long-term health impacts of Covid-19 have remained largely unknown as the longest follow-up to date have spanned around one year, the study pointed out.
It indicated that the lack of pre-Covid-19 health status baselines and comparisons with the general population in most studies have “made it difficult to determine how well patients with Covid-19 have recovered.”’
WHAT DID THE STUDY FIND?
According to the Chinese study, six months after initially falling ill, 68% of participants reported at least one long Covid symptom. Two years after the infection, reports of symptoms had fallen to 55%.
“Fatigue or muscle weakness were the symptoms most often reported and fell from 52% at six months to 30% at two years. Regardless of the severity of their initial illness, 89% of participants had returned to their original work within two years,” the study said.
Two years after initially falling ill, Covid patients are generally in poorer health than the general population, with 31% reporting fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% reporting sleep difficulties. “The proportion of non-Covid participants reporting these symptoms was 5% and 14% respectively.”
Also, it said, Covid-19 patients were also more likely to report a number of other symptoms including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches. In quality of life questionnaires, Covid patients also more often reported pain or discomfort and anxiety or depression than non-Covid people.
The median age of participants at discharge was 57 years out of which 54% were men. Around half of study participants had symptoms of long Covid at two years, and reported lower quality of life than those without long Covid. In mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort and 19% reported anxiety or depression.
The proportion of Covid-19 patients without long Covid reporting these symptoms was 10% and 4% at two years, respectively. Long Covid participants also more often reported problems with their mobility or activity levels than those without long Covid.
HOW WAS THE STUDY CONDUCTED?
According to the release, the authors of the new study sought to analyse the long-term health outcomes of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, as well as specific health impacts of long Covid.
The multiple authors of the study evaluated the health of 1,192 participants with acute Covid treated at Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between January 7 and May 29, 2020, at six months, 12 months, and two years.
A six-minute walking test, laboratory tests, and questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life, if they had returned to work, and health-care use after discharge – these are the list of a few assessments involved. “The negative effects of long Covid on quality of life, exercise capacity, mental health, and health-care use were determined by comparing participants with and without long Covid symptoms,” the release said.