Symptoms persisting after hospitalisation for COVID-19: 12 months interim results of the CO-FLOW study

L. Martine Bek, Julia C. Berentschot, Majanka H. Heijenbrok-Kal, Susanne Huijts, Michel E. van Genderen, J. Hans Vlake, Jasper van Bommel, Joachim G.J.V. Aerts, Gerard M. Ribbers, Rita J.G. van den Berg-Emons, Merel E. Hellemons*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Introduction A large proportion of patients experience a wide range of sequelae after acute COVID-19, especially after severe illness. The long-term health sequelae need to be assessed. Our objective was to longitudinally assess persistence of symptoms and clusters of symptoms up to 12 months after hospitalisation for COVID-19 and to assess determinants of the main persistent symptoms. Methods In this multicenter prospective cohort study patients with COVID-19 are followed up for 2 years with measurements at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after hospital discharge. Here, we present interim results regarding persistent symptoms up to 12 months. Results We included 492 patients; mean±SD age was 60.2±10.7 years, 335 (68.1%) were males, median length of hospital stay was 11 (6.0–27.0) days. At 3 months after discharge 97.0% of the patients had at least one persisting symptom, this declined to 95.5% and 92.0% at 6 and 12 months, respectively (p=0.010). Muscle weakness, exertional dyspnoea, fatigue, and memory and concentration problems were the most prevalent symptoms with rates over 50% during follow-up. Over time, muscle weakness, hair loss and exertional dyspnoea decreased significantly (p<0.001), while other symptoms such as fatigue, concentration and memory problems, anosmia and ageusia persisted. Symptoms from the physical and respiratory cluster declined significantly over time, in contrast to the fatigue and cognitive symptom clusters. Conclusion The majority of patients experienced COVID-19 sequelae up to 12 months after severe infection. Whereas physical and respiratory symptoms showed slow gradual decline, fatigue and cognitive symptoms did not evidently resolve over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00355-2022
Number of pages13
JournalERJ Open Research
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2022

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