COVID-19 Hospital Stays Disrupt Long-Term Health, Financial Stability

Close to 85% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 said that they were not back to their pre-COVID lifestyle 1 month later, says the study.

Even a short stay in the hospital with a COVID-19 infection can adversely affect the long-term health and financial stability of patients, according to a study by investigators at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Results from the study were published in The Journal of Hospital Medicine.

“This isn’t patients saying, ‘I can’t run quite as far as I used to’. This is them saying ‘I can’t walk, I can’t cook, I can’t shower’. The effects are devastating,” C. Terri Hough, a co-lead author on the study said. “Unfortunately, we saw this even among patients with quite short hospital stays.”

For the study, the team of investigators enrolled 1300 patients at 44 major medical centers in the Prevention and Early Treatment of Acute Lung Injury (PETAL) Network. The analysis presented in this study included 253 patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19.

The study period lasted from the fall 2020 through the early part of 2021.

Findings from the study showed that close to 85% of people that were hospitalized with COVID-19 said that they were not back to their pre-COVID lifestyle 1 month later. Many of the participants had new or worse cardiopulmonary symptoms, along with other significant factors which may be driving their inability to fully recover.

Financial impact was also widespread, with 23% of the participants reporting using up their life savings. Additional findings showed that almost half of the patients who were surveyed during the study period reported a new disability that prevented them from taking part in daily living activities 1 month later.

“As we continue, we’re excited that this study will link the biology of initial hospitalizations for COVID-19 to long-term patient-centered outcomes, and thereby help us find treatments to decrease the burden of recovery from COVID-19,” Hough said. “There are few other national studies that have both details about the hospital stay and are continuing to ask for patient perspectives like we are.”

This article originally appeared inContagion®.