Almost 90% of recovered COVID-19 patients report persistent symptoms
Almost 90% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 reported at least one persistent symptom, according to a study of 143 patients published in JAMA.
“For the clinicians, the game is not over when you discharge the subjects from the acute ward,” Angelo Carfi, MD, of the geriatrics department at Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, told Healio. “We should try to figure out a way to help them to recover as quickly as they can.”
Carfi and colleagues followed up with COVID-19 patients from Agostino Gemelli University Hospital who met WHO criteria for quarantine discontinuation — two negative tests for SARS-CoV-2 within 24 hours, absence of fever for 3 consecutive days and improvements in other symptoms. The researchers collected information on specific symptoms related to COVID-19 via a standardized questionnaire.
On the questionnaire, patients were asked to recall the presence of COVID-19 symptoms and if the symptom continued at the time of the visit. The researchers used the EuroQol scale from 0 to 100 to evaluate patients’ quality of life before and after COVID-19, with a difference of 10 points indicating a worsened quality of life.
During their hospitalization, 72.7% of patients showed symptoms of pneumonia. The average patient age was 56, and average length of stay was 13.5 days. A total of 15% of patients underwent noninvasive ventilation, and 5% had invasive ventilation.
The researchers analyzed patients an average of 60 days after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Only 12.6% of patients had no COVID-19 symptoms at the time of evaluation. The remaining 87.4% reported symptoms: 32% showed one or two symptoms and 55% showed three or more symptoms. No participants showed fever or signs of acute COVID-19, the researchers reported. Almost half — 44% — of patients reported a lower quality of life following COVID-19.
Carfi said comradery across medical specialties was useful during the course of the study.
“Usually in a hospital it is very difficult to collaborate across different specialties because everyone is focusing on their own work,” Carfi said. “In this case, everything was very easy and smooth — everyone wanted to join the team and to do their part for COVID-19.”