Long-term damage Covid-19: lungs and heart recover over time

Actual lung damage from Covid-19 can be detected in CT scans.

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From shortness of breath to coughing to chest pain – even months after a Covid 19 infection, some people have not recovered and complain of complaints and decreased fitness.

Under the direction of Ivan Tancevski, researchers at Innsbruck University Hospital are therefore investigating the long-term health effects of the coronavirus. Their answer: Both the lungs and heart can recover from Covid-19 infection over time.

As part of the study, which the researchers presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, the health of 86 people who had recovered from Covid-19 was checked at intervals of 6, 12 and 24 weeks. The medical check focused on lung and heart function. CT scans were especially important – because only they reveal the actual damage to the lungs.

After twelve weeks, half no longer show any lung damage

Six weeks after being released from medical care, the majority of the patients still suffered from symptoms. In 88 percent, the CT scans still showed damaged lungs.

After twelve weeks, however, ‘only’ half of the lung damage was seen – in the other half, the lungs seemed to have recovered. And also the heart of the examined seemed to regenerate gradually at this point. According to the researchers, the test results for the test after 24 weeks are not yet available.

“The bad news is that the Covid-19 patients show lung damage for weeks after they are discharged,” said Dr. Sabina Sahanic from the University of Innsbruck. “The good news is that the damage tends to improve over time, which suggests that the lungs have some mechanism to repair themselves.”


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