Long covid covid 19 patients still have complaints a year after infection the mirror

Long Covid is now a familiar term to many: it is the long-term consequences of a Corona disease. Symptoms sometimes getting worse instead of better. Complaints that persist for months after infection with Sars-CoV-2 and sometimes severely restrict affected persons in their daily lives. But not much is known about Long Covid, the clinical picture is too new. Study data from the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan now shed light on how long affected individuals could potentially suffer from symptoms: Many of those formerly infected still have symptoms a year later.

The first cases of the then-novel coronavirus were discovered in Wuhan in December 2019. Presumably, the virus then spread from there throughout the world. Consequently, Wuhan is also home to some of the first patients ever to come into contact with the virus. Chinese scientists have analyzed the health of 1276 corona patients, whose course was so severe that they had to be hospitalized, at intervals of six and twelve months.

Oxygen transport worsened

They found that about one in three were still suffering from shortness of breath and lung dysfunction after one year. The study

, which was published in the journal Lancet, concludes that especially in people who have had very severe covid, oxygen transport from the lungs to the bloodstream may be worsened. Overall, the study demonstrates that the health of Covid 19 survivors is worse than that of non-infected individuals.

The same research team found six months ago that about three-quarters of Covid 19 patients were still suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances or depression six months later.

"Our study shows that while most Covid-19 patients recover well, there are some who have persistent health problems," said study author Bin Cao of the National Center for Respiratory Medicine at China-Japan Friendship Hospital. "Especially those who were hospitalized with a critical course." The results indicated that recovery would take longer than a year for some patients. "This needs to be factored in when it comes to taking medical precautions even after the pandemic has passed."

At least one symptom remained after one year

The patients studied had all been infected with Sars-CoV-2 between early January and late May 2020, and all had been hospitalized with severe courses. The participants were 57 years old on average. Six and twelve months later, they underwent health checks, including a six-minute walking test, physical examinations and laboratory tests; they also answered questions from the team of experts.

Most patients had fully recovered after one year. Nevertheless, about half of them (49 percent) still had at least one symptom after twelve months. After six months, about 68 percent. Again, the so-called fatigue (exhaustion syndrome) were. Muscle weakness the most commonly cited symptom. After one year, one in five patients still reported suffering from these symptoms. One-third of participants reported still being short of breath after 12 months, and these were primarily patients who had been ventilated in the hospital.

Those who showed impaired oxygen transport on pulmonary function tests at six months still showed no improvement after one year. In return, lung scans of those with the disease showed improvements: After six months, about half of them still had abnormalities on their lung images. After twelve months, this number dropped to a still high 39 percent.

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Women more affected than men

The study authors also found differences between the sexes, which previous studies had also indicated. According to the study, the risk for women to suffer from fatigue or muscle weakness after corona infection is about 1.4 times higher than that of men. Have twice the risk of depression or anxiety disorders after one year. About three times the risk of pulmonary dysfunction.

The researchers sought to compare the overall quality of life of former Covid 19 patients with people of the same gender, age and health status who did not have the disease. According to the results, Covid 19 survivors are more likely to experience pain or discomfort or have limited mobility.

One year after their illness, the psychological consequences also increased: The percentage of people who complained of depression or anxiety increased slightly from 23 percent after six months to 26 percent after one year. "We don't know why they have even more psychological problems after one year than after six months," says study author Xiaoying Gu of the Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences at China-Japan Friendship Hospital. "This could be related to biological processes involved in the viral infection itself or the body's own immune response. But it could also be related to reduced social contacts, loneliness, job loss, or physical health not being fully restored."

Study results should be interpreted with caution: Participants were a comparatively small number of affected individuals, all of whom were hospitalized. In order to draw general conclusions about the population as a whole, the results should therefore be taken as indicative only.

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