The long-term consequences of the new coronavirus remain largely unknown.
In a one-of-a-kind study, medical researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) began to research and compile early answers.
UBC researchers have followed the health of people hospitalized in Vancouver with COVID-19 several months after their first symptom.
What they found was “surprising,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Alyson Wong, of Vancouver Is Awesome.
Of the 78 patients surveyed, more than three-quarters said they had a moderate impairment in their quality of life three months later.
Patients reported that their quality of life was impaired, or that they had shortness of breath, weakness, anxiety / depression, or trouble sleeping.
“I was surprised at how high the proportion of patients still struggling is,” the doctor added, noting that more than half of those surveyed said they had difficulty with two of the factors.
Even half of those who had no pre-existing health conditions before contracting COVID-19 still had health abnormalities, she explained.
Twenty-three percent of patients reported the presence of cough.
Burnaby resident Jonah McGarva is one of them – although he was not included in the investigation.
The 41-year-old said he still had several symptoms related to COVID-19, months after he started feeling sick in March.
“I am now in my seventh month of treatment for COVID-19 and am taking a variety of medications, foods, vitamins and treatments to help relieve symptoms,” he said.
In another UBC study, COVID-19 patients underwent respiratory exams and CT scans three months after the onset of symptoms.
“More than half were abnormal in their breath tests,” Wong said.
“And 88% of the patients had persistent abnormalities in their imaging.”
Ultimately, the study concluded that “patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 continue to struggle after recovery from the acute phase of this disease. “