Home Health Half of the patients hospitalized have at least one symptom after two...

Half of the patients hospitalized have at least one symptom after two years


Two years later, half of the group of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, still has at least one lingering symptom, according to a study published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The study traced 1,192 participants in Wuhan, China, infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first phase of the 2020 pandemic.

While physical and mental health as a whole has improved over time, research has shown that patients with COVID-19 still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population. This is particularly true for participants with prolonged COVID-19, who typically still have at least one symptom, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping two years after the initial illness.1

The long-term health effects of COVID-19 remained largely unknown, with the longest-lasting studies to date lasting about one year.2 The lack of baseline health indicators for COVID-19 and comparisons with the general population in most studies also made it difficult to determine how well patients with COVID-19 were cured.

Lead author Professor Bin Cao of the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in China said: “Our findings suggest that for a certain proportion of hospitalized people who survived COVID-19, although they may have cured the initial infection, it takes more than two years to completely cured of COVID-19. Continuous monitoring of COVID-19 victims, especially those with symptoms of prolonged COVID, is important for understanding the longer course of the disease, as well as further exploring the benefits of rehabilitation programs for recovery. There is a clear need to provide ongoing support to a significant proportion of people with COVID-19 and to understand how vaccines, new treatments and options affect long-term health outcomes. ”3

The authors of the new study attempted to analyze the long-term health outcomes of hospitalized people who survived COVID-19, as well as the specific health effects of long-term COVID-19. They assessed the health of 1,192 participants with acute COVID-19 who were treated at Jin Yin-Tang Hospital in Wuhan, China, between January 7 and May 29, 2020 after six months, 12 months and two years.

The assessment included a six-minute walk test, lab tests and questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life when they returned to work and medical care after discharge. The adverse effects of long-term COVID on quality of life, physical fitness, mental health, and use of health services were determined by comparing participants with and without long-term COVID symptoms. Health outcomes two years later were determined using a control group of people in the general population who matched age, sex, and comorbidities who did not have a history of COVID-19 infection.

Two years after the initial illness, patients with COVID-19 tend to be in poorer health than the general population: 31% report fatigue or muscle weakness, and 31% report difficulty sleeping. The proportion of non-COVID-19 participants who reported these symptoms was 5% and 14%, respectively.

Patients with COVID-19 were also more likely to report a number of other symptoms, including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches. In quality of life questionnaires, patients with COVID-19 were also more likely to report pain or discomfort (23%) and anxiety or depression (12%) than participants without COVID-19 (5% and 5%, respectively).

Approximately half of the study participants had symptoms of long-term COVID-19 at two years and reported a lower quality of life than those who did not have long-term COVID-19. In mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort, and 19% reported anxiety or depression. The proportion of patients with COVID-19 who did not report these symptoms for a long time was 10% and 4% over two years, respectively. Participants in long-term COVID-19 were also more likely to report problems with mobility (5%) or activity levels (4%) than those without long-term COVID (1% and 2%, respectively).

The authors acknowledged limitations in their study, such as moderate response rates; the proportion of participants receiving oxygen increased slightly; this has been one central study since the beginning of the pandemic.


1. – National Institute of Health and Best Practice – Scottish Interuniversity Network of Guidelines – Royal College of General Practitioners. A Quick Guide to COVID-19: Managing the Long-Term Consequences of COVID-19. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng188
2. – Saryana – J. B. Merty – S. Marshall – J. K. Relan – P. Diaz JV – on behalf of the WHO Working Group on Clinical Cases after COVID-19. Determining the clinical case status after COVID-19 by Delphi consensus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2021; 22: e102-e107
3. – Huang L – Yao Q – Gu X – et al. Results for 1 year in hospital survivors with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet. 2021; 398: 747-758

Image: © stock.adobe.com/au/ink drop


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