Some COVID-19 patients see persistent lung disease 6 months after infection

24 Nov 2022
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Radiographic and physiologic signs of lung disease persist for up to 6 months after infection from COVID-19, reports a recent study.

The study included 51 COVID-19 patients, of whom 30 needed hospitalizations. Full pulmonary function tests (PFT) were carried out at 3 and 6 months, along with cardiopulmonary exercise testing, to assess the long-term sequelae of COVID-19. The primary outcomes were the mean differences in forced vital capacity (FVC), diffuse capacity of lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO), and oxygen consumption (VO2).

None of the lung function measures were significantly different at 3 vs 6 months. FVC increased slightly from 96.2 to 97.6 percent of predicted, as did DLCO (73.74 to 78.5 percent of predicted) and VO2 (75.5 to 76.1 percent of predicted).

Participants were then classified into five subgroups according to lung disease status: no lung disease (n=16), resolved COVID-19-related lung disease (n=11), persistent COVID-19 lung disease (n=8), PFT abnormalities attributable to pre-existing lung disease (n=9), and mild PFT abnormalities of uncertain clinical significance (n=7).

All eight patients with persistent COVID-19 lung disease were hospitalized at the time of assessment, and half were admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Crude analysis revealed that D-dimer levels ≥250 ng/L, ICU admission, hypertension, and diabetes were significant correlates to COVID-19-related pulmonary abnormalities persisting until the 6-month follow-up.

“Our results highlight the need for longer-term follow-up of patients with lung function abnormalities post-COVID to gain a better understanding of long-term physiological and functional outcomes,” the researchers said.

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