People who recover from COVID-19 can still be left with substantially reduced lung functions, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority has found after observing the first wave of patients discharged after becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
The doctors made the observations after studying a group of 12 patients who had recovered, rather than as part of a wider-ranging study.
They found a drop of 20% to 30% in lung capacity in two or three out of them.
“They gasp if they walk a bit more quickly,” a top infectious diseases expert said,
according to the South China Morning Post. He added, however, that patients could do cardiovascular exercises to improve their lungs. While it’s too early to establish long-term effects of the illness, scans of nine patients in the group suggested that recovered patients had sustained organ damage, the Post reported.
Out of a global total of 128,000 infections, some 70,000 have recovered. More than 4,700 have died.
The illness —
which presents symptoms including fever, breathlessness, and a cough — affects the elderly and those with preexisting symptoms the most.
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People who recover after being infected with
the novel coronavirus can still be left with substantially weakened lung capacity, with some left gasping for air when walking quickly, doctors in Hong Kong have found.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority made the findings after studying the first wave of patients who were discharged from the hospital and had fully recovered from COVID-19.
Out of 12 people in the group, two to three saw changes in their lung capacity.
“They gasp if they walk a bit more quickly,” Owen Tsang Tak-yin, the medical director of the authority’s Infectious Disease Centre, told a press conference Thursday,
according to the South China Morning Post.
“Some patients might have around a drop of 20 to 30% in lung function” after full recovery, he said.
Tsang added, however, that patients can do cardiovascular exercises, like swimming, the improve their lung capacity over time.
While it’s too early to establish long-term effects of the disease, scans of nine patients’ lungs also “found patterns similar to frosted glass in all of them, suggesting there was organ damage,” Tsang said, according to the Post.
Current coronavirus patients’ CT scans show “ground glass,” a phenomenon in which fluid builds up in lungs and presents itself as white patches,
as Business Insider’s Aria Bendix has reported. The scans below, taken from one coronavirus patient at different points in time, show that the person’s “ground glass” became more pronounced as their illness progressed.
Junqiang Lei, Junfeng Li, Xun Li, and Xiaolong Qi
As of Friday morning, 69,607 people had recovered from COVID-19 out of 128,392 confirmed cases,
according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 4,700 people have died of the disease.
The disease appears to affect
the elderly or infirm worse than any other demographic, as the outbreak in Italy has shown.
“Among those who are infected, most will recover,” the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
The most commonly reported symptoms include a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and some 80% patients will experience a mild illness,
according to the WHO.
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
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