SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - In the biggest study yet in the US on "Long Covid" (when symptoms last for more than 28 days or develop after 28 days), researchers have found that Covid-19 survivors had an increased risk of death after the initial 30 days of illness.
The study looked at more than 87 000 people who have had Covid-19 and aimed at identifying the six-month health outcomes of Covid survivors.
The findings, published in a report in Nature (nature.com) last week, show that beyond the first 30 days of illness, "subtantial health loss" was experienced, which involved not only the respiratory system but also led to neurocognitive disorders, mental health disorders, metabolic, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders, malaise, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and anaemia.
This study confirmed findings about Long Covid conveyed by South Africa's ministerial advisory committee (MAC) to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in December last year. The MAC advised that the incidence of Long Covid is higher in women than in men, and two-thirds of patients with mild or moderate Covid-19 were still symptomatic, with previously hospitalised patients "being particularly affected".
Evidence of ongoing myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) was found in 60% of patients assessed by cardiac MRI at an average of 10 weeks after diagnosis with Covid.
The MAC recommended that a "patient-centred" rehabilitation approach should be used to treat Long Covid patients. This includes respiratory, cardiac and musculoskeletal rehabilitation by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists, among others.
"Fatigue and low energy levels may be helped by graded exercise programmes, tailored towards the individual. Breathlessness and cough may respond to breathing control exercises," advised the MAC.
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