Drugs Health Pharma

Fatigue in long Covid patients same as in stage IV lung cancer

Long-Covid-19 patients have fatigue similar to cancer-related anemia, severe kidney disease, and Parkinson’s disease, a study by the  University College of London found.

HQ Team

June 14, 2023: Long-Covid-19 patients have fatigue similar to cancer-related anemia, severe kidney disease, and Parkinson’s disease, a study by the  University College of London found.

Researchers at the university along with their counterparts at the University of Exeter studied the impact of the pandemic on the lives of 3,750 patients who were referred to a long Covid clinic.

In order to be referred to a long Covid clinic, a patient must have had symptoms in keeping with long Covid for at least 12 weeks after an acute infection.

According to the Office for National Statistics, about 1.4 million people in the UK had symptoms of long Covid as of July 2022. Alongside fatigue, patients typically experienced breathlessness, anxiety, depression, and brain fog.

The researchers documented the health and self-reported functional impairment and quality of life of individuals who attended the National Health Service long Covid clinics in the UK.

Same as metastatic cancer

The choice of the patients reflects the experiences of individuals whose symptoms were severe enough that they sought medical care for the condition.

“Their health-related quality of life scores were also lower than those of people with advanced metastatic cancers, like stage IV lung cancer,” according to a statement from the University College.

Patients completed questionnaires on a digital app about how long Covid was affecting them -– considering the impact of long Covid on their day-to-day activities, levels of fatigue, depression, anxiety, breathlessness, brain fog, and their quality of life.

Overall, the team found that the impact of long Covid on the daily activities of patients was worse than that of stroke patients and was comparable to that of patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“Up to around 17% of people who get Covid go on to develop long Covid*. However, the impact of the condition on patients’ day-to-day lives isn’t fully understood,” said Dr Henry Goodfellow, who co-led the study and is a professor at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health.

‘Devastating effect’

“Our results have found that long Covid can have a devastating effect on the lives of patients – with fatigue, having the biggest impact on everything from social activities to work, chores and maintaining close relationships.”

More than 90% of long Covid patients using the digital app were of working age (18-65) and 51% said they had been unable to work for at least one day in the previous month, with 20% unable to work at all.

Seventy-one percent of patients were female. “As working-age women make up a majority of the health and social care workforce, the impact of long Covid on their ability to function may add additional pressures to already stretched services,” according to the statement.

This is the first study to report on the impact of the condition on day-to-day functioning and health-related quality of life in patients who have been referred for specialist rehabilitation in long Covid clinics across England, the university stated.

“We hope that a greater understanding of the symptoms and impact of long Covid in these patients will help the NHS and policymakers to target limited resources by adapting existing services and designing new ones to better meet the needs of patients with long Covid,” Dr Goodfellow said.

‘Invisible condition’

Co-author Professor William Henley, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said “long Covid is an invisible condition, and many people are left trying to manage significant changes to how they can function. 

“Shockingly, our research has revealed that long Covid can leave people with worse fatigue and quality of life than some cancers, yet the support and understanding is not at the same level. 

“We urgently need more research to enable the development of evidence-based services to support people trying to manage this debilitating new condition.”

The research was published in BMJ Open and funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *