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Perception of Not Returning to Full Health Common After COVID-19

FRIDAY, Jan. 8, 2021 -- More than 60 percent of patients with COVID-19 feel that they have not returned to full health at a median 75 days after diagnosis, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Liam Townsend, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D., from St. James's Hospital in Dublin, and colleagues describe respiratory recovery and self-reported health following infection at the time of outpatient attendance among patients with COVID-19. A total of 487 patients were offered an outpatient appointment, of whom 31 percent (153 participants) attended for assessment at a median 75 days after diagnosis. During acute infection, 48 percent of these patients had required hospital admission.

The researchers found that 4 percent of the participants had persistently abnormal chest X-rays. The median six-minute walk test distance covered was 460 m; there was a correlation for reduced distance covered with frailty and length of inpatient stay. Overall, 62 percent of participants felt that they had not returned to full health; the definition for fatigue was met by 47 percent. An increased perception of exertion was seen in association with ongoing ill health and fatigue. There was no association observed between any of the measures of persistent respiratory disease and initial disease severity.

"These findings have implications for clinical care, in that they demonstrate the importance of following up with all patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19, irrespective of severity of initial infection," Townsend said in a statement. "It is not possible to predict who will have ongoing symptoms."

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Posted: January 2021

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