Scientists estimate the prevalence of organ damage during prolonged Covid-19

(ORDO NEWS) — The authors of the new report analyzed the symptoms of prolonged Covid-19, as well as the general health and quality of life of those who had been ill.

Scientists from Oxford, Liverpool and Hull Universities, as well as Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals (UK) have assessed how often organ damage occurs in patients with long-term Covid-19.

The symptoms of a protracted coronavirus disease – or post-covid syndrome – have been established by experts for a long time: most often, people suffering from it complain of fatigue even with little physical exertion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, brain fog, absent-mindedness, difficulty concentrating.

However, not much is known about multiple organ failure, a critical illness syndrome caused by excessive, uncontrolled systemic inflammation in response to illness or injury.

The new study included 536 people (mean age 45, 37% female, 89% white, 32% healthcare workers) who recovered from Covid-19 and experienced post-COVID-19 syndrome and long-term consequences six months and a year after infection. Approximately 13% of patients required hospitalization during the acute phase of the disease.

The scientists assessed participants’ symptoms, quality of life, general health, and analyzed biochemical and physiological parameters at baseline and after at least a year.

The volunteers also underwent magnetic resonance imaging, the results of which were then compared with the results of healthy people. The sample excluded those who had a cough and fever, and those who had just recently been discharged from the hospital or did not have post-COVID syndrome at all.

As the results showed, after six months and a year, 50% and 38% of people, respectively, showed a decrease in cognitive functions, 55% and 45% – a drop in the quality of life, 36% and 30% – severe shortness of breath.

The patients’ lives were most affected by muscle pain and difficulty performing normal activities, with almost everyone having to take time off from work. Most often, post-COVID syndrome occurred in women and young people.

The prevalence of poly- and mono-organ lesions (inflammation of the heart muscle, pancreas, liver, kidney, spleen, decreased total lung capacity) was 23% and 59% at baseline, respectively. At follow-up, at least six months later, they occurred in 27% and 59% of people.

Although organ damage was generally not as severe, the situation did not improve over time. Patients who managed to avoid such a problem had the least symptoms of prolonged Covid-19.

In the long term, severe liver tissue inflammation was associated with cognitive dysfunction in 19% of patients. Low liver fat was more common in participants who did not experience dyspnea (at both time points), and increased liver size at follow-up was correlated with lower quality of life scores.

As for the biochemical analysis of blood, its indicators were mostly normal, except for creatinine kinase (in 8% of participants after six months and 13% after a year), lactate dehydrogenase (16% and 22%), the average concentration of hemoglobin in erythrocytes (21% and 15%) and cholesterol (46% and 48%). Subsequently, these biochemical markers increased in comparison with the initial level.

As a result, six months after Covid-19, organ damage occurred in 59% of people with post-COVID syndrome and persisted in 59% of patients who were followed up for a year.

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