(HealthDay News) — Survivors of COVID-19 hospitalization have improvement in physical and mental health over two years, but the burden of symptomatic sequelae remains high, according to a study published online May 11 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Lixue Huang, M.D., from China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues conducted an ambidirectional, longitudinal cohort study of individuals who survived COVID-19 hospitalization and were discharged between Jan. 7 and May 29, 2020. Health outcomes were measured at six months, 12 months, and two years after symptom onset. Data from 1,192 COVID-19 survivors were included in the final analysis.

The researchers observed a significant decrease in the proportion of COVID-19 survivors with at least one sequelae symptom from 68% at six months to 55% at two years; the most frequent sequelae were fatigue or muscle weakness. The proportion of COVID-19 survivors with a modified British Medical Research Council dyspnea scale score of at least 1 decreased significantly from 26% at six months to 14% at two years. In almost all domains, health-related quality of life continued to improve, especially in terms of anxiety or depression, which decreased from 23% at six months to 12% at two years. Compared with controls, COVID-19 survivors still had more prevalent symptoms and more problems in pain and discomfort as well as anxiety or depression at two years.

“The COVID-19 survivors had not returned to the same health status as the general population two years after acute infection, so ongoing follow-up is needed to characterize the protracted natural history of long COVID,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text