Research highlights Covid’s long-lasting challenge for healthcare services across the UK, with hundreds of thousands of survivors likely to be affected to some extent. Some experts warn that more than a million patients could experience lasting effects.
Seven in 10 patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus in the UK still had symptoms five months after discharge, a new study has found.
More than 300,000 patients have been treated in hospital with Covid since the start of the pandemic. The UK-wide post-hospitalization study examined more than 1,000 patients who were discharged between March and November 2020 .
It found that 71% had not fully recovered from the disease, with patients reporting an average of nine distinct symptoms. White women between the ages of 40 and 60 were the most affected.
Of those who were employed before catching the virus, 18 percent were no longer working five months after being released. One in five patients reported a new disability and a quarter suffered from anxiety and depression. More than one in 10 showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, 17% having some form of “brain fog”.
Other common symptoms included muscle pain, fatigue, trouble sleeping, joint pain or swelling, limb weakness, shortness of breath, pain, short-term memory loss, and slow thinking. .
Dr Rachael Evans, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester and Respiratory Consultant at Leicester Hospitals, said: ‘Our results show a heavy burden of symptoms, mental and physical health issues and evidence of damage to five organs. months after release from Covid-19. ”
The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, found that the severity of symptoms was not explained by patients who had a more severe infection, although patients in intensive care took longer to recover. .
Scientists may also have found a clue to the underlying cause of the physical problems faced by Covid survivors related to the body’s inflammatory response to infection.
Professor Louise Wain, University of Leicester, said: “When we looked at the severity of patients’ symptoms five months after discharge from hospital, we found that in all but the mildest cases, persistent post-Covid symptoms, levels of a chemical called C-reactive protein [CRP], which is associated with inflammation, were elevated. ”
She said that systemic inflammation has been known to worsen healing and is more common in middle-aged women.
Dr Elaine Maxwell, clinical advisor at NIHR and author of a separate review of over 300 long covid studies, said The independent time is running out to set up services for patients affected by a long Covid.
She said estimates of the extent of the problem ranged between 10% and 30% of patients with Covid, which in the UK could be between 430,000 and 1.3 million patients affected by a long Covid.
“Much of the evidence we have so far describes the problem. How many people have it and what types of symptoms do they have? Which was a reasonable thing to do at first. Now we have to move on to the question of why are they showing the symptoms and how can we treat these patients?
“We cannot wait two years to better understand the mechanisms because we have potentially up to 1.3 million people who have been suffering for months and some people are now in their second year of long Covid.
“I think people still don’t understand how seriously debilitated some people with Covid are.”
Responding to the latest research chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said: “We are in the foothills of our understanding of the long-term effects of Covid. This research provides useful information on the debilitating effects of Covid that some people experience months after being hospitalized.
“It is important that we determine what exactly are the different elements of what is currently called ‘long covid’ so that we can target actions to prevent and treat people with long-term effects.”
NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis said: ‘Long Covid can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life, which is exactly why, in addition to funding and conducting leading research on disease, the NHS has invested millions in opening dozens of covid clinics to help people regain good health.
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, as new evidence and new treatments emerge, the NHS will respond quickly and provide the latest treatments to patients quickly, as we did with dexamethasone, which was used in the front line of patient care when approved and has since saved a million lives worldwide.