Prevalence of Long COVID Symptoms 7 Weeks After Hospital Discharge

Priscilla Lynch 

November 13, 2020

More than two-thirds of patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 continued to suffer from debilitating symptoms more than seven weeks post-discharge, according to a new observational study conducted in three large London hospitals.

The researchers established a post-COVID-19 follow-up service across the three hospitals, collecting data to identify unmet health needs and to identify people requiring additional rehabilitation and/or investigation for complications.

Published in the journal  Thorax,  the study summarises the clinical assessment of 384 patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (mean age, 59.9 years; 62% male) reviewed a median of 54 (interquartile range (IQR), 47-59) days following hospital discharge.

Collectively, the median length of stay in hospital was 6.5 (IQR, 4-10.75) days and 14.5 per cent required admission to intensive care. Only 34 per cent had no reported comorbidity; 43 per cent were from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background; and 8 per cent were classed as obese.

The study cohort (n=384) represents 34 per cent of the total number of patients with COVID-19 discharged in the three hospitals during this period.

All patients were telephoned or seen in person by a member of the clinical team on average 54 days after they had left hospital. Some further face-to-face clinical appointments were required for patients needing rehabilitation and/or further investigation.

The results showed that 53 per cent of these patients reported persistent breathlessness, 34 per cent cough and 69 per cent fatigue and 14.6 per cent were reported as experiencing depression.

In those discharged with elevated biomarkers, 30.1 per cent and 9.5 per cent had persistently elevated d-dimer and C reactive protein, respectively.

For those patients whose chest X-ray still showed signs of infection upon discharge, 62 per cent had a normal X-ray when it was repeated, whereas 38 per cent remained abnormal and 9 per cent were deteriorating.

Study co-author Dr Swapna Mandal said this data show so-called ‘long COVID’ is a real phenomenon and that further research is needed to understand how the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated in the long-term.

Mandal S, Barnett J, Brill SE, Brown JS, Denneny EK, Hare SS, Heightman M, Hillman TE, Jacob J, Jarvis HC, Lipman MCI, Naidu SB, Nair A, Porter JC, Tomlinson GS, Hurst JR; ARC Study Group. 'Long-COVID': a cross-sectional study of persisting symptoms, biomarker and imaging abnormalities following hospitalisation for COVID-19. Thorax. 2020 Nov 10 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-215818. PMID: 33172844 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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