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New Symptoms Common Four Months After COVID-19

FRIDAY, March 19, 2021 -- About half of survivors of COVID-19 who have been hospitalized report symptoms that did not exist before their COVID-19 illness, according to a study published online March 17 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Luc Morin, M.D., from Université Paris-Saclay, and colleagues conducted a prospective uncontrolled study involving survivors of COVID-19 who had been hospitalized between March 1 and May 29, 2020. At four months after discharge, 478 participants underwent a telephone evaluation, and respiratory, cognitive, and functional symptoms were assessed.

Via the telephone interview, the researchers found that 244 patients (51 percent) declared at least one symptom that did not exist before COVID-19, including fatigue, cognitive symptoms, and new-onset dyspnea in 31, 21, and 16 percent, respectively. One hundred seventy-seven patients (37 percent) underwent further examination. The median 20-item Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory score was 4.5 and 3.7 for reduced motivation and mental fatigue, respectively. Sixty-three percent of the patients had computed tomographic lung-scan abnormalities, mainly subtle ground-glass opacities. Nineteen percent of the patients had fibrotic lesions; in all but one patient, the lesions involved less than 25 percent of parenchyma. Thirty-nine percent of survivors with acute respiratory distress syndrome had fibrotic lesions. Anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic symptoms were seen in 23, 18, and 7 percent, respectively, of 94 former intensive care unit patients.

"The cohort in this study revealed wide-ranging physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms at four months following hospitalization for COVID-19," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Importantly, symptoms among participants in this study varied markedly."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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