researchers Amsterdam University Medical Center We have made important discoveries regarding the persistent fatigue experienced by patients with long-term coronavirus infections.
Experts have identified a biological cause for this debilitating condition. It is a decrease in energy production by mitochondria in muscle cells.
Study participants, including 25 patients with long-term COVID-19 infection and 21 healthy controls, underwent a 15-minute cycling test.
The test found that the symptoms known as post-exertional malaise (PEM) worsened over time in patients with long-term COVID-19 infections. This worsening of fatigue occurs after physical, cognitive, or emotional exertion that exceeds an individual’s tolerance.
changes in muscle tissue
“There are clear changes in the muscles of these patients,” said Professor Michel van Vugt. These changes were evident in the blood and muscle tissue analyzes performed on him one week before and one day after the cycling test.
“We observed a variety of abnormalities in the patient’s muscle tissue. At the cellular level, we found that the mitochondria in the muscles, also known as the energy factories of the cell, functioned poorly, resulting in reduced energy production. ” explained Professor Rob Wust.
“So the cause of fatigue is really biological. The brain needs energy to think. Muscles need energy to move. This finding could help people with long-term COVID-19 infections. “This means we can begin research into appropriate treatments for the disease,” said Professor Van Vugt.
One theory about how long the coronavirus lasts is that coronavirus particles can remain in the body. “We don’t see any signs of that in the muscles at this point,” Van Vugt said.
Furthermore, the patient’s heart and lung function appeared to be normal, indicating that the persistent fatigue was not due to abnormalities in these organs.
Impact on treatment
The results of this study have important implications for the management of lingering symptoms of the new coronavirus. This result suggests that intense exercise is not necessarily good for long-term patients with COVID-19.
“Decreased exercise capacity is one of the characteristic signs of long-term COVID-19 infection and is accompanied by a significant burden on daily life,” the researchers wrote. “Although ventilation and central cardiovascular system did not limit exercise capacity in long-corona patients, our results support previous suggestions of impaired peripheral skeletal muscle metabolism in long-corona patients.”
Advice for patients
Brent Appelmann, a researcher at Amsterdam UMC, advises patients to exercise within their own limits. “Specifically, we advise these patients to adhere to and not exceed their physical limits.”
“Consider light exercise that doesn’t make your symptoms worse. Walking or riding an e-bike are good ways to stay in shape. Keep in mind that each patient has different limits,” says Appelman. he said.
“Some classical rehabilitation and physical therapy treatments are counterproductive for recovery in these patients, as symptoms can worsen after exercise,” Professor Van Vugt added.
Understanding the long-lasting coronavirus
It is estimated that one in eight patients will develop long-term Covid, also known as post-Covid syndrome (PCS). A large study of nearly 10,000 Americans found that long-term COVID-19 infections can affect nearly every tissue in the body, with symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, and gastrointestinal upset. It has been found that it can affect the body and organs.
In particular, long-term COVID-19 infections were more prevalent and severe in people infected before the emergence of the 2021 Omicron variant. The researchers also identified 12 symptoms that most characterize long-term cases of COVID-19, including fatigue after exertion and problems with sexual desire and performance.
Further research has proposed several mechanisms for the development of prolonged COVID-19 infection, including immune dysregulation, microbiota disruption, autoimmunity, coagulation and endothelial abnormalities, and neurological signaling dysfunction.
Studies have observed changes in immune cells such as T cells and B cells, as well as increased levels of certain cytokines, in people who have had a long COVID-19 infection. Elevated levels of autoantibodies have also been observed in patients with long-term COVID-19 infection.
The research will be published in a journal nature communications.
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