A third of long COVID patients sustained damage to multiple organs five months after infection, a study has found.
Scans of patients who were treated in hospital for COVID-19 showed higher rates of damage to the lungs, brain and kidneys compared with the non-COVID control group.
Lung injuries were almost 14 times higher among long COVID patients, while abnormal findings involving the brain and kidneys were three and two times higher respectively.
How badly the organs were affected was often due to the severity of their infection, their age and other diseases in the body.
Study lead Dr Betty Raman said people who had more than two organs affected were “four times more likely to report severe and very severe mental and physical impairment”.
The findings, based on analysis of more than 250 patients who had COVID hospital treatment, are part of the C-MORE (Capturing the MultiORgan Effects of COVID-19) study and were published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
Participants were recruited across 13 sites in the UK and had MRI scans covering the heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys an average of five months after leaving hospital.
While some symptoms could be clearly linked to injuries that showed on the scans – for example, chest tightness and a cough with lung MRI abnormalities – not all symptoms could be directly linked to the scans.
The research confirmed that damage to multiple organs was more likely in patients who had reported severe effects on their physical and mental health after COVID.
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