84% of patients with COVID-19 who have been admitted to the ICU have respiratory problems at the three-month discharge chief

This is revealed by the post-COVID-19 study, coordinated by Dr. Jessica González Gutiérrez, a specialist physician in the Pneumology Service of the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital and an IRBLleida researcher

Eight out of ten (84%) patients with COVID-19 who have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU) show alterations in respiratory function tests three months after discharge. Specifically, alterations appear in the diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide, Diffusion lungcapacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO), i.e. the capacity of the lungs to transfer oxygen into the blood. This is revealed by the post-COVID-19 study, coordinated by Dr. Jessica González Gutiérrez, a specialist physician in the Pneumology Service of the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital and a member of the Translational Research Group in Respiratory Medicine at the Lleida Institute for Biomedical Research (IRBLleida).

The study is based on tests carried out on 62 patients from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Lleida. The majority (75%) are men with an average age of 57. More than half (51.7%) are ex-smokers, 37% have hypertension and 14.5% diabetes. The median stay in hospital was 29 days, of which 17 were in the ICU. Sixty-two percent of these patients required invasive mechanical ventilation for an average of 19 days.

"The results of this study show that pulmonary involvement in critical patients with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is very frequent, much more than we could have expected," says Jessica González, coordinator of the study. According to González, this affectation is more important than in other serious respiratory diseases caused by viruses, such as the coronavirus SARS-CoV-1 or MERS.

"This study, which forms part of an initiative by the Carlos III Health Institute (CIBERESUCICOVID) that aims to obtain information on 5,000 patients admitted to different ICUs in the State, alerts us to the effects that can remain in critical patients with COVID-19. These patients need special attention in terms of follow-up and treatment once they are discharged", says González. These patients need special attention in terms of follow-up and treatment once they are discharged", says González. "It also opens up new avenues of research to identify the factors that may predispose to these lung lesions and propose possible preventive or therapeutic targets to avoid them".

The results of this pioneering study, unpublished until now, will be extended with data from the second wave of the pandemic.

The post-COVID-19 study is coordinated by Dr Jessica González Gutiérrez