COVID-19 study finds most hospitalized patients suffer long-term issues

A newly published cohort study reports that the majority of COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized due to the disease suffer at least one long-term consequence months after 'recovery.' The findings were recently published in The Lancet, where researchers report that muscle weakness and fatigue are the most common long-term issue.

The study evaluated 1,733 individuals who were hospitalized in China due to the virus; it found that more than three-quarters of these patients still experienced at least one health consequence six months later. Of those people, 63-percent had muscle weakness or fatigue, with the next most common issues being sleep troubles, anxiety, and depression.

Of the patients who had their antibodies tested at the height of the infection, 94 of them were found to have less than half remaining after six months — indicating that re-infection with the virus may be possible months after recovery.

Looking specifically at the patients who were hospitalized and developed a severe COVID-19 infection, many showed signs of organ damage — namely lung abnormalities and breathing issues — six months later. The study notes that the patients evaluated for this research had a median age of 57, the age range where one is more likely to experience a severe illness.

Many of the long-term ramifications associated with COVID-19 remain unknown due to the relatively young age of this disease. Follow-up studies with patients are still limited at this time and are generally short in nature. This isn't the first study to report long-term issues in 'recovered' patients, however, with one from October reporting unusual skin manifestations.