A year later, 75% of COVID-19 ICU patients report physical symptoms

A year after COVID-19 patients left intensive care, almost 75 percent reported lingering physical symptoms, more than 26 percent reported mental symptoms and more than 16 percent had cognitive symptoms, according to a study published Jan. 24 by JAMA Network.

On June 16, 2021, researchers surveyed 246 patients 16 years and older who had been admitted to one of 11 ICUs in the Netherlands from March 1 to July 1, 2020. The average participant was 61.2 years, 71.5 percent were men and the median ICU stay was 18.5 days.

Five study findings: 

1. A year after ICU release, 74.3 percent of participants said they experienced physical symptoms; 26.2 percent reported mental symptoms; and 16.2 percent said they had cognitive symptoms.

2. Of physical symptoms, the most commonly reported new problems were weakened condition (38.9 percent), joint stiffness (26.3 percent), joint pain (25.5 percent), muscle weakness (24.8 percent), muscle pain (21.3 percent) and shortness of breath (20.8 percent).

3. Reported new mental symptoms included anxiety (17.9 percent), depression (18.3 percent) and post-traumatic stress disorder (9.8 percent). 

4. Cognitive symptoms prevalence was measured using the Likert scale measuring daily life cognitive failures ranging from never to very often.

5. Overall, 30.6 percent reported symptoms in at least two areas and 10.5 percent reported symptoms in all three (physical, mental and cognitive).  

Study authors said long-term consequences of severe COVID-19 are still widely unknown but are likely substantial. The findings confirm the need for long-term follow-up with such patients, the authors concluded. 

 

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