New MUHC study underway into COVID patients whose symptoms persist for months

The McGill University Health Centre is launching a study into people suffering from what has become known as “long COVID.”

While many who survive their bout with the virus see symptoms dissipate in a matter of days or weeks, others have seen the fight stretch on for months, often with serious complications.

“A lot of them have inflammation of the envelope around (the heart) and also inflammation of the muscle of the heart,” said epidemiologist and cardiologist Thao Huynh.

Since the pandemic started, Huynh has been on the front lines and has seen how for some unfortunate people, the symptoms have stayed with them.

“We found the most common symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness,” she said. “Most of the symptoms are mainly due to heart disease and they often complain about trouble concentrating, the brain fog.”

Long-term symptoms have been observed in people of all ages, including people who had previously been in perfect health. That has resulted in some missed diagnoses.

One of the 200 patients in the MUHC's new study is Josee Laroche, who worked in a long-term care facility during the height of the pandemic's first wave. In September, she contracted the virus.

“I can't work, I sleep between 13 to 18 hours a day, depending on how much pain I'm in that day,” she said. “I never know how my symptoms will change during the day, so I could be okay for two or three hours and then, boom, rash all over my body, migraine... It's a constant. You never know what you're going to get in 24 hours.”

As part of the study, Laroche will have her cardiovascular and neuro-cognitive health monitored over a one-year period.

“I don't expect miracles, to be recovered 100 per cent, but if I can gain a little bit of quality of life, the ability to cook and do a little grocery shopping without being out of breath and in pain, that would be wonderful,” she said.

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