Health. – With each successive wave of COVID-19, the percentage of patients who experience symptoms related to it increases 3 months after infection, said Dr. Michał Chudzik, creator and coordinator of the STOP-COVID program, which has been studying people with long Covid for a year.
As part of the STOP-COVID project (www.stop-covid.pl), Dr. Chudzik has examined over 2.3 thousand people for over a year. patients with complications after COVID-19. He noted that the number of patients reporting was not decreasing. Every month there are about 200 of them, and if not for the limited capabilities of the team in which, apart from cardiologists, work, among others, lung disease specialists, psychologists, neurologists and dermatologists, there would certainly be more.
“After a year of research, several conclusions can be drawn from them. First of all, that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are much more serious than we originally assumed. With each subsequent wave, the percentage of patients who have symptoms related to it after 3 months of infection increases. In 2020 it was 50 percent, in autumn 60 percent, and in this year’s spring wave – 70 percent. What will happen after the current wave, we will see only in the first months of 2022 “- the cardiologist told PAP.
In about 40 percent. of patients in care, symptoms persist even one year after contracting COVID-19. Most often, convalescents complain of chronic fatigue. In turn, 16 percent. has neurological disorders related to cognition and memory like “brain fog” or even dementia.
“These are young people who have not suffered from any diseases before. Their average age is 50” – added Dr. Chudzik.
Post-inflammatory changes in the heart are a frequent complication, and recently cardiologists have also noticed an increase in the number of patients with permanent damage to this organ, requiring specialized treatment.
The expert admitted that the group of patients against whom medicine seems to be completely helpless are people with impaired smell and taste. “We are even trying unconventional methods, because so far we do not have any therapy that could help them” – he added.
Treatment of convalescents complaining of chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety disorders and “brain fog” gives good results.
“A comprehensive postovid rehabilitation program, including physical condition, psychological and dietary support, is effective. After its implementation, 80-90% of patients recover very quickly.
“We use modern methods, not reimbursed by the National Health Fund, such as supplementation or mitochondrial therapy, strengthening the energy structures in our cells. It consists in the fact that the patient breathes air with alternating low and high oxygen content. (…) The body is then mobilized to increased production of red blood cells, iron and all this is associated with greater energy production in mitochondria. So far, this therapy was used by athletes after strenuous exercise. The method was described in many disorders – + brain fog +, dementia in the elderly, cardiac rehabilitation, we hope that it will be effective also for those recovering from COVID-19 “- said Dr. Chudzik.
Patients with neurological disorders, on the other hand, benefit from training using a PlayStation-like device to force their brains to be active and learn. According to the expert, dementia disorders that appear in very young people, incl. in a 30-year-old patient.
“Dementia processes in the brain will progress, we can only slow them down or do anything to prevent them from starting, but we cannot reverse them. We believe that the brain in young people is more plastic, that the changes occurring in it are not constant as in seniors. However, a general observation may be made that the pandemic and the accompanying limitations that force us to isolate, sit at home, often in front of a computer screen, may accelerate the aging of societies “- believes the cardiologist.
A significant group of respondents – over 30% – before COVID-19, she had no chronic diseases. The analyzes show that the severity of the course of coronavirus infection was influenced by two factors – overwork and poor sleep physiology.
“Twice as many people who went to sleep too late had long Covid with a severe course. It’s worth knowing that the first hours of sleep are the most important – from 11.00 pm to 2.00 am. Then we produce the most melatonin, which is the strongest stimulator of our immune system. we will miss these hours, we will not make up for it with the length of sleep. If we work in front of a computer screen or watch TV just before going to bed, the brain is stimulated so much that after we go to sleep, it still works – and melatonin is not secreted “- explained Dr. Chudzik .
Equally harmful, in his opinion, is sleeping in a room with a TV set or a cell phone with blue light turned on, because despite our eyes closed, the light reaches the brain, signaling that we are awake. Then no melatonin will be produced either.
Researchers were surprised that frequent physical activity of young patients did not affect the course of long Covid. However, when they checked people over 65 in this respect, it turned out that being active helped them recover. Where does this difference come from? The secret is in the types of activity. Immunity is strengthened by regular, moderate activities that are closer to recreation, and not excessive exertion, such as running marathons.
Obese people go through COVID-19 harder, which did not surprise Dr. Chudzik’s team, because obesity is a chronic inflammation that the body constantly struggles with and which negatively affects the efficiency of the immune system.
“But when we looked at the + brain fog + cases, people with a low body mass index (BMI) below 18 were the largest group with this disorder. We cannot explain that yet. Perhaps it is personality influencing because people who are extremely thin. not always in good health. Keeping in good dimensions BMI 25-28 may be better than strict diets “- said the cardiologist.
According to the latest WHO definition, the so-called long covid (long covid) means at least one ailment within 3 months of the detection or suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. It must last for at least two months and cannot be explained by any other disease. Symptoms may appear during the acute form of COVID-19 disease, and then persist, but also make themselves felt for the first time after recovery.
Long covid is manifested by fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive impairment. Patients experience chest pain, changes in taste and smell, muscle weakness and palpitations.
“Of course, it can be said that my research does not cover all COVID-19 patients, because those who feel well do not come to me. However, thanks to them we can confirm that the long-term effects of the infection can be serious and cannot be compared with any other It is not an ordinary flu, as some say, and the following years will show it, because people with distant symptoms will still require help “- emphasized Dr. Chudzik.