According to a recently released UK study, people who have long Covid after being admitted to the hospital are more likely to have harm to critical organs. Patients were three times more likely to have some abnormalities in several organs such as the lungs, brain, and kidneys, according to MRI scans.
Researchers believe there is a correlation between the severity of the sickness and this finding. The UK study will perhaps aid in the development of more effective treatments for extended Covid.
The study, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, looked at 259 people who became so unwell with the virus that they had to be hospitalised. MRI scans of their major organs five months after discharge revealed some significant alterations when compared to a group of 52 persons who had never had Covid.
The MRI scans were 3 times more likely to reveal abnormalities in the lungs, which had the greatest impact.
MRI scans were also three times more likely to reveal abnormalities in the brain and twice as likely in the kidneys in those with severe Covid.
There was no discernible difference in heart or liver health.
According to Dr. Betty Raman of the University of Oxford, one of the study’s principal scientists, those with extended Covid symptoms are more likely to have suffered organ damage.
“The patient’s age, how severely ill they were with Covid, and whether or not they had other illnesses at the same time were all significant factors in whether or not we found damage to these important organs in the body,” she explained.
New Therapies for Long Covid
The findings are part of the Phosp-Covid project, which is looking at the long-term effects of Covid on hospitalised patients.
Some symptoms, such as a tight chest and cough, matched up with indicators of organ damage revealed by MRI scans, according to the researchers. However, not all of the symptoms described by persons living with extended Covid could be directly attributed to the scans.
According to Dr. Raman, abnormalities in more than one organ appear to be more likely in persons who had been admitted to hospital and were still reporting physical and mental health difficulties after recovering from the first infection.
“What we are seeing is that people with multi-organ pathology on MRI – that is, they had more than two organs affected – were four times more likely to report severe and very severe mental and physical impairment,” she explained.
“Our findings also highlight the need for longer-term multidisciplinary follow-up services focused on pulmonary and extrapulmonary health (kidneys, brain, and mental health),” the researchers write.
Prof Chris Brightling of the University of Leicester, who is directing the Phosp-Covid study, said the findings are part of a larger effort to better understand the syndrome known as extended Covid.
“This detailed study of whole-body imaging confirms that changes in multiple organs are seen months after being hospitalised for long Covid,” he stated.
“The Phosp-Covid study is working on understanding why this happens and how we can develop tests and new treatments for long Covid.”