Lung, heart harm in Covid-19 patients improve with time

Complaints from states that people becoming lax in taking COVID-19 precautions Health Ministry

Complaints from states that people becoming lax in taking COVID-19 precautions Health Ministry

The first follow-up of 86 patients infected with the coronavirus in the "hot spot" Tyrolean region of Austria, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, showed that the Covid-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage but, for many, this tends to improve over time.

The patients were scheduled to return for evaluation six, 12 and 24 weeks after their discharge from hospital.

"It is sobering to hear that more than half of the patients in this study showed damage to their lungs and hearts 12 weeks after hospital discharge, and that almost 40 percent were still suffering from symptoms such as breathlessness", said Theirry Troosters, president of the European Respiratory Society.

Researchers looking at cases in Austria found in about 88 percent of people who require hospital treatment for the disease, lung damage caused by inflammation and fluid is still visible in scans six weeks after being discharged.

"About 50% of our study population showed a persisting shortness of breath six weeks after discharge from hospital that improved slightly until visit two", Sahanic said. Fifteen percent of patients still had a persistent cough 12 weeks afterwards.

The team tested for lung function, which included the FEV1, which measures the amount of air that can be exhaled forcibly in one second, the DLCO, which tests how well oxygen passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, and the FCV, which measures the total volume of air expelled forcibly. At six weeks, 23 percent of the patients showed FEV1 levels less than 80 percent of normal, improving at 12 weeks to 21 percent of the patients. 33% of patients showed DLCO as less than 80% of normal, improving to 22% at 12 weeks.

"The findings show the importance of implementing structured follow-up care for patients with severe Covid-19 infection".

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It was available in 74 patients (88 percent) at about a month and a half and 48 patients (56 percent) at 12 weeks. 'This is how we got to know that a few recovered patients were suffering from long-term complications like anxiety, breathlessness, insomnia.' The feedback led to the opening of the post-COVID clinic, a first-of-its-kind facility, on the premises of the hospital with medical specialists to treat symptoms particular to their respective fields.

Scientists in the U.S. looked at hundreds of child cases of COVID-19 and influenza, and found "no difference in hospitalisation rates, intensive care unit admission rates and mechanical ventilator use".

The patients spent an average of 3 weeks in the ICU on mechanical ventilators and 2 weeks in the pulmonary unit before transfer to the Dieulefit Sante pulmonary clinic in the French Alps.

A walking test evaluated their weekly progress. At the beginning, they were able to walk an average of 16% of the distance that, in theory, they should be able to walk normally if healthy.

"These findings suggest that doctors should start rehabilitation as soon as possible, that patients should try to spend as little time as possible being inactive and that they should enroll with motivation in the pulmonary rehabilitation program".

"Despite the significant improvement, the average period of three weeks in rehabilitation wasn't enough for them to recover completely", Al Chikhanie said.

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