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For some survivors, coronavirus complications can last a ‘lifetime’
- Written by ibro

May 5, 2020 As the number of worldwide confirmed coronavirus cases climbs towards 1 million, the number of recoveries is thankfully more than four times the death toll. But medical experts told FRANCE 24 that COVID-19 can cause severe long-term damage to the lungs, heart, brain and other organs – and that for some patients, these complications may be permanent. Out of more than 950,000 cases of coronavirus so far across the globe, over 202,000 people have recovered, while more than 48,000 have died. However, clinicians have pointed out that some COVID-19 survivors have developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – a severe condition that, for the worst-affected patients, can last for the rest of their lives.

The doyen of medical journals, The Lancet, was one of the first to sound the alarm, publishing a report in February showing that 29 percent of a group of patients in Wuhan whom the researchers tracked between mid-December and early January had got ARDS.

A similar report by the British Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, published in The Sunday Times on March 15, found that some 17 percent of intensive care patients whose treatments they analysed developed the syndrome. In addition, a few days before the British doctors released their findings, medical researchers in Hong Kong found that, out of a small study of 12 patients who left hospital after recovering from the coronavirus, two or three had diminished lung function.

The damage you can have is for a lifetime

The coronavirus has been treated “as though it’s life and death – if you have the right medical care you can survive – but some survivors are having issues that are lingering”, noted Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “Because of how serious the ARDS is, the damage that you can have for that is for a lifetime.”

“Large numbers of ARDS survivors are not able to go back to work,” added Onjen Gajic, a critical care specialist at the Pulmonary Medical Department of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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