Long COVID-19 Symptoms Common Regardless of Hospitalization Status at Onset

The majority of hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients had at least 1 long COVID-19-related symptom 2 years after initial onset.

Rates of long COVID-19-related symptoms 2 years after acute infection were found to be similar between patients who were and were not hospitalized at infection onset, according to study results published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers performed a cross-sectional study at 2 urban hospitals and primary care offices in Spain between March and April of 2020. Included patients were interviewed 2 years following the onset of COVID-19 infection and assessed for the presence of long COVID-19-related symptoms. The researchers used chi-square test or 1-way variance test to nonhospitalized and hospitalized patients who developed COVID-19. The primary outcome was the rate of long COVID-19-related symptoms at 2 years between patients who were and were not hospitalized following infection onset. Differences symptom rates between the groups were compared using chi-squared and 1-way analysis of variance testing, as needed.   

Similar rates of post-COVID-19 symptoms between hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients suggest that, among all patients who contract COVID-19, these sequelae deserve attention.

The hospitalized group had 360 patients (45.0% women) and the nonhospitalized group had 308 (59.4% women) patients. The mean age among patients in the hospitalized group was 60.7 years, compared with 56.7 years for those in the non-hospitalized group (P =.03). Hypertension was the most common comorbidity in both the hospitalized (33.3%) and nonhospitalized (24.7%) groups. Diabetes was more common among patients in the hospitalized group (13.6%) compared with those in the nonhospitalized group (4.9%).

At least 1 symptom related to long COVID-19 was found in 59.7% of hospitalized patients and 67.5% of nonhospitalized patients (P =.01). Fatigue (44.7% and 47.7%), pain (35.8% and 29.9%), and memory loss (20.0% and 15.9%) were the most commonly observed symptoms at 2 years in both hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients, respectively. Anosmia was more common in nonhospitalized patients (66%), while dyspnea was more common in hospitalized patients (31.1%).

Study limitations include the use of self-reported data, and laboratory biomarkers were not evaluated during the acute phase of infection. These results also may not be generalizable to patients infected with other COVID-19 variants.

According to the researchers, “[S]imilar rates of post-COVID-19 symptoms between hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients suggest that, among all patients who contract COVID-19, these sequelae deserve attention.”

References:

Fernández-de-las-Peñas C, Rodríguez-Jiménez J, Cancela-Cilleruelo I, et al. Post–COVID-19 symptoms 2 years after SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospitalized vs nonhospitalized patients. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(11):e2242106. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.42106