Women under 50 and people with severe disease have worse long-term outcomes after hospital admission with COVID-19 than others, according to new UK research.
The study found that in adults 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 found 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.
Lead author Janet Scott from the University of Glasgow-MRC Centre for Virus Research said the research shows 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,” she said.
“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 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 were admitted to hospital between February and October 2020.
Participants were followed up 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 per cent of participants reported they did not feel fully recovered.
Ongoing symptoms were reported by 93 per cent of participants, with fatigue the most common (reported by 83 per cent) followed by breathlessness (reported by 54 per cent), and many also experienced muscular pain and discomfort.
Tom Drake, clinical research fellow at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, said it was becoming increasingly clear COVID-19 had profound consequences for those who survive the disease.