40% of COVID-19 survivors get a new disability, study finds

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A recent study from Monash University found six months after recovering from COVID-19 critical illness, one in five people had died, and almost 40% of survivors had a new disability.

In the study, the team looked at COVID-19 critical illness across Australia between March 6 and October 4, 2020, measuring mortality, new disability, and return to work in people admitted to intensive care units.

At six months, 43 of the 212 (20.3%) eligible patients had died, and 42 of the 108 (38.9%) surviving patients who responded to the study reported a new disability.

The team found that 71.3% of surviving patients reported persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, loss of strength, fatigue, headaches, and loss of sense of smell and taste after recovering from the critical illness.

There was also a significant decrease in health-related quality of life across all domains, but particular participants reported new problems with mobility (33.9%), usual activities (43.2%), and pain (34.2%), as well as cognitive impairment (33.3%).

In addition, one-fifth (20%) reported anxiety (20.2%), depression (20%), and PTSD (18.4%). More than one in 10 survivors were unemployed due to poor health.

With a median age of 61, 58 percent of participants were male with comorbidity of diabetes or obesity. Fifty-seven percent received mechanical ventilation.

Researchers say that because COVID-19 is a new disease, the impact on long-term outcomes in survivors is still emerging.

However, these findings suggest that patients should be screened at hospital discharge for new functional impairments, as the burden of new disability after critical illness with COVID-19 represents an urgent public health problem.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about how vitamin B may help fight COVID-19, and new therapy from bananas may help treat COVID-19.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about new evidence on rare blood clots after COVID-19 vaccination, and results showing scientists find inexpensive, readily available drugs that may treat COVID-19.

The research was published in Critical Care and conducted by Professor Carol Hodgson et al.

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