COVID-19-related lung problems can linger a year, small study finds

Some patients with severe COVID-19 cases may exhibit decreased lung function or lung changes for up to a year after recovering, according to a study published May 5 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Researchers followed 83 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia in Wuhan, China, for 12 months after their hospitalization. They assessed patients' symptoms, lung function and lung CT scans at three, six, nine and 12 months.

After a year, most patients appeared to fully recover. However, 5 percent still reported breathlessness, and 24 percent still had evidence of lung abnormalities in CT scans after 12 months, researchers found. Thirty-three percent of patients also had impaired lung function with regard to how efficiently oxygen is transferred from the lungs into the blood.

"Women were more likely to have persistent reductions in lung function tests, and further investigation is needed to understand if there is a sex-specific difference in how patients recover," study author Mark Jones, PhD, associate professor in respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton in England, said in a news release. "We also don't yet know what happens beyond 12 months, and this will need ongoing study."

To view the full study, click here.


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