New Symptoms, Disability Linger One Month After COVID-19 Discharge

Longer hospital stays tied to greater odds of one-month cardiopulmonary symptoms and new disability

THURSDAY, Sept. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Many U.S. patients who survive COVID-19 still face new symptoms and disability one month after hospital discharge, according to a study published online Aug. 18 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Theodore J. Iwashyna, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues measured incident symptoms after COVID-19 hospitalization (August 2020 to January 2021). The analysis included one-month follow-up survey responses from 253 participants in the Biology and Longitudinal Epidemiology: COVID-19 Observational study.

The researchers found that patients were hospitalized for a median of five days, were a median age of 60 years, and were mostly non-Hispanic White (53.8 percent; 9.1 percent non-Hispanic Black and 32.8 percent Hispanic). At one-month posthospitalization, most respondents (54.9 percent) reported a new or worsened cardiopulmonary symptom, 16 percent reported new or increased oxygen use, and 84.2 percent reported not feeling fully back to their pre-COVID-19 functioning. More than half (52.8 percent) reported new limitations in activities of daily living, as well as financial toxicities, including job loss or change (19.8 percent), having a loved one take time off (37.8 percent), and using up one’s savings (23.2 percent). There was an association between longer lengths of hospital stay and greater odds of one-month cardiopulmonary symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, 1.82 per additional week in the hospital) and new disability (adjusted odds ratio, 2.06).

“This isn’t patients saying, ‘I can’t run quite as far as I used to.’ This is them saying ‘I can’t walk, I can’t cook, I can’t shower.’ The effects are devastating,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we saw this even among patients with quite short hospital stays.”

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