Long-Term Characteristics of Severe COVID-19: Respiratory Function, Functional Capacity, and Quality of Life

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Sirayder U., Inal-Ince D., Kepenek-Varol B., Acik C.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol.19, no.10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ijerph19106304
  • Journal Name: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Geobase, MEDLINE, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: lung function, post-COVID-19, fibrosis, functional capacity, fatigue, quality of life, TURKISH VERSION, RELIABILITY, VALIDITY, SCALE
  • Kayseri University Affiliated: No


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Recovery from pneumonia takes around 3–6 months in individuals with severe COVID-19. In order to detect the isolated damage caused by COVID-19, the 6-month period must pass after the recoveries. However, to our knowledge, no published study analyzes a comprehensive evaluation of individuals with severe COVID-19 after 6 months. We aimed to evaluate long-term consequences of severe COVID patients by comparing respiratory function, functional capacity, quality of life, fatigue, and balance 6 months after the intensive care unit (ICU) discharge with healthy individuals. Method: 26 post-COVID adult patients and 26 healthy individuals (control group) were included in this study. Physical characteristics of both groups and patients’ ICU data, including APACHE II scores, were recorded. Lung function, respiratory, and peripheral muscle strength were measured. The lower limit of normal (LLN) cutoff points for forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were calculated. A 6-minute walk test (6MWT) was used to assess functional capacity. Time Up and Go test (TUG) with a stadiometer was performed for balance evaluation. Quality of life was evaluated using Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) and St George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). Results: Percent predicted FVC and FEV1, 6MWT distance, change in oxygen saturation (SpO2) during 6MWT, were lower and NHP, SGRQ, FSS scores and TUG findings were higher in the COVID group than the control group (p < 0.05). The FVC of nine individuals and the FEV1 value of seven individuals in the COVID-19 group were below the LLN values. A moderate correlation was found between ICU length of stay and APACHE II scores with FVC, FEV1, 6MWT distance, and change in SpO2 values in the COVID-19 patients (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Respiratory function, functional capacity, quality of life, and fatigue levels of the individuals with severe COVID-19 infection are impaired at 6 months after ICU discharge. Impaired lung function might be associated with severe inflammation, which starts during the acute infection process and the fibrous tissue during the healing process, impairing lung compliance and diffusion capacity. Infiltration of coronavirus and inflammatory cytokines into the cerebrum and muscle might have increased fatigue and decreased functional capacity. Overall, our study suggests that severe COVID patients need post-discharge care even after 6 months of recovery.