70% of female patients with ongoing covid symptoms show signs of one or multiorgan impairment

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The study reported 32% of the low-risk and young patients with ongoing covid symptoms in UK had signs of damages to the heart and other vital organs

In young and low-risk patients with ongoing symptoms of covid had shown signs of damage of single or multiple organs after the initial virus infection around four months ago, a UK-based study reported.

The initial study suggested that almost 70% of female patients had reported impairments in one or more organs four months after the virus infection in the UK. The initial data was collected from assessing 201 patients.

The results were published in light of the NHS announcement to establish a network of over 40 long covid hospitals and specialist clinics pan Britain this month.

The median age of subjects were 44 years

The research was conducted initially on 201 patients who have completed their assessments at the median gap of 140 days after the initial symptoms of infection. The mean age was 44 years (Standard Deviation-11). Therefore, it stands in mild contrast to the government assumption of low risk to young patients.

“Implications not only for [the] burden of long covid but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities,” the author of the study said. However, the research could not establish a causal link between organ impairments and infections.   

Out of 201 patients assessed at two UK sites in Oxford and London, 70% were females, 87% were whites, and 31% were health workers.  The study was conducted between April and August 2020. The assessment methodology included results from magnetic resonance image scans, blood tests, and online questionnaires.

“Participants were eligible for enrolment if they tested positive by the oro/nasopharyngeal throat swab for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain reaction, a positive antibody test, or had typical symptoms and were determined to have COVID-19 by two independent clinicians,” the pre-printed study reported.

The observation: 32% patients reported heart impairment

The commonly reported ongoing symptoms were fatigue (98%) muscle ache (88%), shortness of breath (87%), and headache (83%). The ongoing symptoms were reported regardless of their hospital status.

While 32% of patients reported impairment in the heart, 33% reported impairment in the lungs. Pancreatic impairment was reported among 17% of the patients, followed by kidney impairment among 12%.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the patients (around 66%) had reported impairments in one or multiple organs. A quarter of them had evidence of multiorgan impairment with varying degrees of overlap across organs. “Causality of the relationship between organ impairment and infection cannot be deduced, but may be addressed by longitudinal follow-up of individuals with organ impairment,” the authors said.

The prevalence of pre-existing conditions was low like obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%, diabetes: 2%, heart disease: 4%. Less than a fifth (18%) of individuals were hospitalized with COVID-19.

According to the research, the results signal the need for monitoring and follow-up in at least the medium and longer-term, especially for extrapulmonary sequelae, and demonstrate that long covid requires management across clinical specialities.

Another limitation is that the study included covid diagnosis by multiple methods due to limited access to laboratory testing during the pandemic.