Women under 50 and people who experienced severe disease had worse long-term outcomes following hospital admission with Covid-19 than others, according to new research.
The study found that in adults who were admitted to hospital, nearly all experienced ongoing symptoms three months or more after the onset of their Covid-19 infection.
Researchers found that women under the age of 50 had higher odds of worse long-term health outcomes when compared with men and older study participants, even if they had no previous co-morbidity.
The study, which has been published as a pre-print, found that people with more severe acute disease in hospital also had worse long-term outcomes than those who did not require oxygen.
Overall, more than half of all the participants reported not being fully recovered three months after the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.
This research is led by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Imperial College London.
Dr Janet Scott, from the University of Glasgow-MRC Centre for Virus Research, lead author of the study, said: “Our research shows that survivors of Covid-19 experienced long-term symptoms, including a new disability, increased breathlessness, and a reduced quality of life.
“These findings were present even in young, previously healthy working age adults, and were most common in younger females.
“The fact that women under the age of 50 are the group with the worst outcomes could have profound implications for pandemic policy decision, as well as vaccination strategy.”
The study, working with the Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infections Consortium’s (ISARIC) global Covid-19 follow-up working group, is said to be the first UK data on persistent symptoms after three to nine months following Covid-19 onset.
Researchers followed 327 adults from 31 hospitals around the UK who had been admitted to hospital between February 5 2020 and October 5 2020.
Participants were followed up with for at least three months, and up to 11 months, in order to document their physical health, and the impact of the illness on psychological health and quality of life.
Female participants under the age of 50 were five times less likely to report feeling fully recovered.
They were twice as likely to report worse fatigue, seven times more likely to be more breathless and were more likely to have worsening difficulties or a new disability, especially relating to memory, mobility and communication, and also vision, hearing and self-care than men of the same age after their acute Covid-19 illness.
Overall, 55% of participants reported that they did not feel fully recovered.
Ongoing symptoms were reported by 93% of participants, with fatigue the most common (reported by 83%) followed by breathlessness, (reported by 54%), and many also experienced muscular pain and discomfort.
Margaret O’Hara, of the long Covid patient group, Long Covid Support, said: “This research is important because it shows that just because people have been discharged from hospital it doesn’t mean that they have recovered from Covid.”
The study is published on the medRxiv pre-print server.
Dr Tom Drake, clinical research fellow at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Covid-19 has profound consequences for those who survive the disease.
“In our study, we found that younger women were most likely to have worse long-term outcomes. It’s really important that people living with the consequences of Covid-19 get the right support they need.”