ESR 2020: COVID-19 patients suffer long-term lung and heart
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COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage but, for many, this tends to improve over time, according to the first, prospective follow-up of patients infected with the coronavirus, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

• Study evaluated 82 severe cases of Covid-19 post-recovery for “the cardio-pulmonary damage at 6, 12, and 24 weeks after discharge”.

• The researchers noted that a comparison of CT scans of the lungs taken at the end of six weeks and 12 weeks after discharge from hospital, showed that on an average, the damage to lungs had reduced significantly.

• At six weeks, 88 per cent of patients with severe Covid-19 showed signs of lung damage shown typically in CT scan films as ground glass. At 12 weeks, 56 per cent patients showed such lung damage.

• This means, though patients’ lungs remained damaged weeks after they recovered from Covid-19, the breathing chambers showed remarkable ability to repair themselves over time.

• An active pulmonary rehabilitation medical care can help faster repair of the lungs. This was confirmed in another study that was conducted in France on pulmonary rehabilitation.

• “Patients, who spent less time bedridden between ICU and PR [pulmonary rehabilitation], recovered faster. These results show the importance of PR in patients post Covid-19, the sooner and the longer, the better,” the researchers concluded.

• The findings from this study show the importance of implementing structured follow-up care for patients with severe COVID-19 infection.

• Ms Yara Al Chikhanie, a PhD student for pulmonary rehabilitation said that the sooner COVID-19 patients started a pulmonary rehabilitation programme after coming off ventilators, the better and faster their recovery.

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