Study finds 'encouraging' recovery of lung capacity, tissue
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Research shows that patients with severe COVID-19 who have to be intubated in the ICU have worse lung damage and are more likely to develop pneumonia and suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that despite all these challenges, the lung tissue of patients who suffered from severe COVID-19 disease shows good signs of recovery in most cases.

To do this, they recruited patients discharged, at least three months prior to the start of the study, after having COVID-19 disease. Of the 124 subjects, 27 had mild COVID-19, 51 had moderate disease, 26 had a severe infection and 20 had critical disease.

The researchers found that among 42 percent of the discharged patients, lung diffusion capacity was below the lower limit of normal.

The ground-glass opacity (an area of the lung with more attenuation or reduced capacity) showed that 99 percent of discharged patients and 93 percent of patients with mild disease had reduced lung capacity — suggesting that those who weren’t hospitalised had roughly similar lung recovery rates as those who had had severe or critical COVID-19 disease.

Among the discharged patients, 91 percent had residual pulmonary parenchymal abnormalities, 22 percent had low exercise capacity, 19 percent had low fat-free body mass index (BMI) and 36 percent had problems with mental and cognitive function. Almost all patients suffered from fatigue, shortness of breath, functional impairment, and lower quality of life.

Even though recovery from all of these severe respiratory conditions takes a long time, the researchers find the current recovery rate of COVID-19 patients encouraging. They also suggest that more follow-up studies should be conducted globally to determine the precise recovery trajectory of COVID-19 disease.

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