Another preliminary study (pending peer review) suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may also affect vital organs in the long term. But the profile of the population in which these tests were performed is different from that of the users of the application.
In the sample of 200 people treated with COVID-19 analyzed in this study, mild heart failure was found in 32% of patients, in the lungs in 33% of patients and in 12% of patients, with respect to the kidneys. . Damage to several of these organs was observed in 25% of patients.
The mean age of the patients in this study was 44 years: therefore, it is a representative sample of a young and active population. Of these, only 18% were hospitalized, implying that damage to vital organs can also occur in cases of minor infections. Pre-existing diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, do not appear to be preliminary indicators of the damage observed in vital organs.
Find out what’s going on
There are many reasons why symptoms can last for months after a viral infection during a pandemic. But getting to the bottom will be easier in some cases than in others.
When symptoms point us to a specific organ, research is relatively easy. Professionals can examine the electrical flow around the heart when the patient suffers from palpitations. They can also assess lung function (elasticity and gas exchange) when shortness of breath is observed. To detect impaired renal function, components of blood plasma are compared with those of urine to measure the ability of the kidneys to eliminate waste.
It is much more difficult to assess symptoms of fatigue. Another recent large-scale study shows that these symptoms are common after contracting COVID-19 and that they occur in more than half of the cases, unrelated to the severity of the disease.
In addition, these examinations revealed that the patients observed did not have a high level of inflammation, suggesting that their fatigue was not the result of a persistent infection or that their immune system had worked overtime. The history of these long-lasting symptoms included being a woman and, curiously, having been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Although men have a higher risk of contracting a severe case of infection, the fact that women are more susceptible to the long-term form of COVID could be related to differences or hormonal changes.
The ACE2 receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect the body is not only found on the surface of respiratory cells, but also in the cells of various hormone-producing organs, including the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland. adrenal glands and ovaries.
Some symptoms of long COVID overlap with those of menopause and replacement hormones may offer a solution to reduce the impact of symptoms. However, clinical studies will be needed to validate the safety and efficacy of this approach. Initiatives have already been taken in this direction.
With everything that has happened over the past year, we must learn to separate what falls under the virus as such and what could be the consequence of the huge social disruptions that this pandemic has caused us. However, it is clear that long-term symptoms related to COVID-19 are common and that the long-term causes and treatments of COVID will need to be investigated long after the outbreak is controlled.