Jan. 27, 2022 -- Most patients with COVID-19 who were treated in an intensive care unit show physical, mental, and cognitive effects a year later, new data found.

Additionally, nearly 60% who had jobs before entering the hospital reported problems at work a year later, such as needing to work fewer hours or still taking sick leave.

The study included 246 patients 1 year after ICU treatment for COVID-19 in 11 hospitals in the Netherlands. Researchers found:

  • 74.3% reported physical symptoms
  • 26.2% reported mental health symptoms
  • 16.2% reported cognitive symptoms.

Findings of the study, led by Hidde Heesakkers, MD, Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues were published online Monday in JAMA.

Two-thirds of study participants reported new physical problems as a result of ICU treatment for COVID.

Among those reporting mental effects, 17.9% reported anxiety and 18.3% reported depression a year later; 9.8% of survivors reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

"This study shows what an incredible impact an ICU admission has on the lives of former COVID-19 patients. Even after 1 year, half [are] tired or experience lack of the energy to fully resume their work," coauthor Marieke Zegers, PhD, also from Radboud University Medical Center, said in a press release.

 

 

In an interview, Zegers says, "Based on our findings, patients at high risk for long-term problems should start with rehabilitation while still in the ICU and shortly after to mitigate or even prevent these problems. These is no standard care post-ICU for ICU survivors."

Zegers says they are doing more research tinto why one-fourth of the patients had no symptoms. She also points out that their study shows length of ICU stays for COVID-19 patients is longer compared with other ICU patient groups.

According to the study, the number of patients having problems when they return to work was higher among ICU survivors with COVID-19 (58%) compared with 43% among ICU survivors without COVID-19.

Zegers said the patients will be followed and asked to fill in questionnaires at 24, 36, 48, and 60 months after ICU admission.