Middle-aged women effected by Long COVID

25/03/21

Middle-aged women experience the most severe, long-lasting symptoms after being treated in hospital for Covid-19, two UK studies suggest.

Five months on, 70% of patients studied were still affected by everything from anxiety to breathlessness, fatigue, muscle pain and "brain fog".

But the researchers say there is no obvious link with how ill people originally became.

How women's bodies fight off illness could explain their poorer recovery.

The larger study - led by the University of Leicester - which is yet to be peer-reviewed, followed up more than 1,000 patients who had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK last year. It found that up to 70% had not fully recovered, an average of five months after leaving hospital, with women most affected.

More than 400,000 people have been admitted to hospital with Covid in the UK since the start of the pandemic.

A separate smaller pre-print study, led by University of Glasgow, found women under 50 were seven times more likely to be more breathless, and twice as likely to report worse fatigue than men of the same age who had had the illness, seven months after hospital treatment.

In the Leicester study, these lasting 'long Covid' symptoms stopped 18% of people returning to work and forced 19% to change their job.

Despite patients receiving a range of hospital care - with most given antibiotics, one-third receiving oxygen and just over a quarter ending up in intensive care - even those who had had short hospital stays still had ongoing problems.

People who hadn't returned to normal health were more likely to be female, white, aged between approximately 40 and 60, have two or more underlying conditions, and been on a ventilator.