Only one in four UK patients hospitalized with Covid report full recovery 12 months later. Women, the obese and those who have been put on mechanical ventilation in hospital all have an increased likelihood of suffering from long Covid, new research has found.
The most common long-lasting symptoms were fatigue, muscle aches, physical slowness, lack of sleep, and shortness of breath. Researchers say long Covid is becoming a “widespread new long-term disease”.
In a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, more than 2,000 patients after hospitalization were studied to determine the impact of a long Covid. Patients at 39 NHS hospitals accepted five-month and one-year follow-up assessments in addition to their clinical care.
Women were 32% less likely, those who were obese were half as likely, and those who had mechanical ventilation in hospital 58% less likely to be fully recovered after one year. Dr Rachael Evans, from the University of Leicester, said: “The limited recovery of five months to one year after hospitalization in our study of symptoms, mental health, exercise capacity, organ impairment and the quality of life is striking.”
She added: “We found that female gender and obesity were major risk factors for non-recovery after one year. In our clusters, female gender and obesity were also associated with more severe ongoing health problems, including reduced physical performance and health-related quality of life at one year, potentially highlighting a group that may need more intense interventions such as supervised rehabilitation.
Professor Louise Wain, British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research, said: “No specific therapeutics exist for long COVID and our data underscores that effective interventions are urgently needed. Our findings on the Persistent systemic inflammation, particularly in very severe and moderate patients with clusters of cognitive impairment, suggests that these clusters may respond to anti-inflammatory strategies.
“The concordance in the severity of physical and mental health disorders in long COVID highlights the need not only for close integration between physical and mental health care for patients with long COVID, including the evaluation and interventions, but also for the transfer of knowledge between health professionals to improve patient care.
“The finding also suggests the need for complex interventions that target both physical and mental health disorders to alleviate symptoms. However, specific therapeutic approaches to manage post-traumatic stress disorder may also be needed.”
Professor Christopher Brightling, lead researcher from the National Institutes of Health Research, said: “Our study highlights an urgent need for healthcare services to support this large and rapidly growing patient population in which there is substantial symptom burden, including reduced exercise capacity and reduced health-related quality of life one year after hospital discharge.
“Without effective treatments, long COVID could become a new, widespread long-term disease. Our study also provides a rationale for investigating long COVID treatments with a precision medicine approach to target treatments to each patient’s profile to restore their health status. quality of life.”
The results are to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, Portugal.