According to AIIMS, Covid-19 patients at risk of developing lung fibrosis.
Some people have fully recovered from Covid-19 but some people are experiencing persistent symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue, erratic heartbeat, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle and joint pains for several weeks. A few develop irreversible cardiovascular and respiratory damage.
Recently, doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have found a case where two patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are suffering from extensive fibrosis — a condition where lung tissues harden, with lesions caused as the infection heals.
The doctors have recommended lung transplants for them.
“If you look at the available data, about 60 to 80% of the individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 may have some form of sequelae (a condition caused by another disease). It can be mild in the form of fatigue and body aches. But it can also be very serious in the form of individuals requiring to be on long-term oxygen therapy. We have had two individuals who have had extensive lung fibrosis and are being advised lung transplants. And we have people who have significant cardiac abnormalities and stroke,” AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria said in the weekly ‘National Grand Rounds’ to present current evidence to doctors across the country.
“There is no estimate of the prevalence of post-COVID-19 fibrosis but given the volume of Covid-19 cases, even if it is a small percentage, the absolute numbers are likely to be huge,” he said.
As for the heart, Dr. Ambuj Roy, a professor from the department of cardiology at AIIMS, said patients with severe pneumonia and other respiratory infections have a higher risk of heart attacks.
“Once a patient recovers from Covid-19, we cannot lower our guards. As we have seen in the case of severe pneumonia, the risk of heart attack goes up by as much as six times. We need to closely follow the recovered Covid-19 patients who have multiple risk factors. Those who are on cardio-protective medicines should continue taking them diligently and those with higher risk should also be prescribed these medicines,” he said.