Researchers of the University of Leeds (UK) have identified a Long-term pattern of symptoms likely to be experienced by people hospitalized with COVID-19 infection
They include fatigue, shortness of breath, psychological distress (including concentration and memory problems) and a general decline in quality of life.
Some patients, particularly those who had been in intensive care, they had symptoms associated with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“COVID-19 is a new disease and we have very little information about long-term problems in individuals after discharge from the hospital. The evidence is that for some, the road to recovery can take months and it is vital that specialized rehabilitation is on hand to support them.. This research gives an important insight into the needs of patients, and that will help shape services in the community, “explains Manoj Sivan, leader of the research, which has been published in the‘ Journal of Medical Virology ’.
The research team followed up on 100 people recovering from COVID-19 four to eight weeks after they were discharged from the Leeds hospital.
The survivors of COVID-19 were divided into two groups: those who had become seriously ill and needed intensive care. (32 people were in this category); and those who were treated in a room without the need for intensive care (68).
The patients were contacted by a member of the hospital’s rehabilitation team and asked a series of questions about their recovery and the symptoms they were still experiencing.
The most frequent symptom was fatigue. More than 60 percent of people who had been treated in a ward reported fatigue, and a third of them described it as moderate or severe.
For patients who had been in intensive care, 72 percent reported fatigue. Of these, more than half said it was moderate or severe.
The second most common symptom was shortness of breath. People in both groups said they had feelings of shortness of breath that had not existed before contracting COVID-19.
This was higher in the group that had been sicker, the intensive care group, compared to those who had been treated in a ward: 65.6 percent versus 42.6 percent.
The third most prevalent symptom was neuropsychological. The research survey found that almost a quarter of people who had been in a room and just under half of people who had been in intensive care had some of the symptoms of PTSD.
“PTSD symptoms are a well-recognized component of post-intensive care unit syndrome, caused by a variety of factors including fear of death, invasive treatment, pain, delirium, inability to communicate, weakness , immobility and sensory problems and sleep deprivation ”, detail the authors.
More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of the patients in the intensive care group and just under half (45.6 percent) of the other group said that their overall quality of life had deteriorated.
The researchers note that the rehabilitation needs of patients who did not need hospital care need to be further investigated and they are working to understand this in future research.