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Sci Rep ; 12(1): 8801, 2022 05 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1864766


After acute infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a considerable number of patients remains symptomatic with pathological changes in various organ systems. This study aimed to relate the physical and mental burden of symptoms of long COVID patients to the findings of a somatic evaluation. In patients with persistent long COVID symptoms three months after acute infection we assessed physical and mental health status using the SF-36 questionnaire. The cohort was dichotomised by the results (upper two quartiles vs. lower to quartiles) and compared with regard to transthoracic echocardiography, body plethysmography (including diffusion capacity), capillary blood gas analysis and 6-min walk test (6-MWT). From February 22 to September 13, 2021, 463 patients were prospectively examined, of which 367 completed the SF-36 questionnaire. A positive correlation between initial disease severity (need for hospitalization, intensive care medicine) and resulting symptom burden at follow-up could be demonstrated. Patients with impaired subjective physical and mental status were significantly more likely to be women. There was a significant correlation between symptom severity and reduced exercise tolerance in the 6-MWT (495.6 ± 83.7 m vs 549.7 ± 71.6 m, p < 0.001) and diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide (85.6 ± 14.3% of target vs 94.5 ± 14.4, p < 0.001). In long COVID patients, initial disease severity is correlated with symptom burden after at least 3 months of follow-up. Highly symptomatic long COVID patients show impaired diffusion capacity and 6-MWT despite average or mildly affected mechanical lung parameters. It must be further differentiated whether this corresponds to a transient functional impairment or whether it is a matter of defined organ damage.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/complications , Exercise Tolerance , Female , Humans , Lung , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome