British researchers from a leading biotech company in Oxford called Perspectum along with scientist and medical professionals from University of Liverpool, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Hull, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University College London and Barts Health NHS Trust have in a new long COVID study found that 59% Of Post-COVID individuals are inflicted with organ impairment that affects their quality of life.
The study findings were published on a preprint server and are currently being peer reviewed. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.03.18.22272607v1
Importance: Multi-organ impairment associated with Long COVID is a significant burden to individuals, populations and health systems, presenting challenges for diagnosis and care provision. Standardised assessment across multiple organs over time is lacking, particularly in non-hospitalised individuals.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of organ impairment in Long COVID patients at 6 and at 12 months after initial symptoms and to explore links to clinical presentation. Design: This was a prospective, longitudinal study in individuals following recovery from acute COVID-19.
We assessed symptoms, health status, and multi-organ tissue characterisation and function, using consensus definitions for single and multi-organ impairment. Physiological and biochemical investigations were performed at baseline on all individuals and those with organ impairment were reassessed, including multi-organ MRI, 6 months later.
Setting: Two non-acute settings (Oxford and London). Participants: 536 individuals (mean 45 years, 73% female, 89% white, 32% healthcare workers, 13% acute COVID-19 hospitalisation) completed baseline assessment (median: 6 months post-COVID-19). 331 (62%) with organ impairment or incidental findings had follow up, with reduced symptom burden from baseline (median number of symptoms: 10 and 3, at 6 and 12 months).
- Extreme breathlessness (36% and 30%),
- cognitive dysfunction (50% and 38%) and poor health-related quality of life (EQ-5D-5L<0.7; 55% and 45%) were common at 6 and 12 months, and associated with female gender, younger age and single organ impairment.
- At baseline, there was fibro-inflammation in the heart (9%), pancreas (9%), kidney (15%) and liver (11%);
- increased volume in liver (7%), spleen (8%) and kidney (9%); decreased capacity in lungs (2%); and
- excessive fat deposition in the liver (25%) and pancreas (15%).
- Single and multi-organ impairment were present in 59% and 23% at baseline, persisting in 59% and 27% at follow-up.
Conclusion and Relevance: Organ impairment was present in 59% of individuals at 6 months post-COVID-19, persisting in 59% of those followed up at 1 year, with implications for symptoms, quality of life and longer-term health, signalling need for prevention and integrated care of Long COVID. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04369807