Signs of multiple organ damage have been reported in young and previously healthy people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, four months after the initial infection, a British study revealed on Sunday.
The findings are a step towards developing treatments for some extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the United Kingdom. Fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain are among the most frequently reported effects.
On Sunday, the UK National Health Service announced it would launch a network of more than 40 long Coronavirus specialist clinics where doctors, nurses and therapists will assess the physical and psychological symptoms of patients.
The study aims to evaluate the long-term impact of Covid-19 on organ health in around 500 “low-risk” individuals through a combination of MRI scans, blood tests, physical measurements and online questionnaires.
Preliminary data suggests that almost 70% of patients suffer impairments in one or more organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas, four months after catching the disease. While these impairments are mild, 25% of people have effects on two or more organs.
In some cases, there was a correlation between symptoms and organ impairment. For instance, heart or lung impairments correlated with shortness of breath, while liver or pancreas impairments associated with gastrointestinal problems.
Study yet to be peer-reviewed
However, the study doesn’t prove that organ impairments are caused due to their ongoing symptoms. For comparison, the researchers are also scanning people who have not suffered from Covid-19 or have experienced other viral infections like flu.
Preliminary data from a separate study of 58 patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 suggested that 60% of patients experienced abnormalities in the lungs, 29% in the kidneys, 26% suffer heart ailments and 10% have abnormalities the livers, two to three months after the initial infection.
The new findings could impact the way patients with long Covid are treated, suggesting the need for closer collaboration between medical specialists.
(Image credits: AP)