Long-Term Evolution of Malnutrition and Loss of Muscle Strength after COVID-19: A Major and Neglected Component of Long COVID-19.
UNLABELLED Post-acute consequences of COVID-19, also termed long COVID, include signs and symptoms persisting for more than 12 weeks with prolonged multisystem involvement; most often, however, malnutrition is ignored. METHOD The objective was to analyze persistent symptoms, nutritional status, the evolution of muscle strength and performance status (PS) at 6 months post-discharge in a cohort of COVID-19 survivors. RESULTS Of 549 consecutive patients hospitalized for COVID-19 between 1 March and 29 April 2020, 23.7% died and 288 patients were at home at D30 post-discharge. At this date, 136 of them (47.2%) presented persistent malnutrition, a significant decrease in muscle strength or a PS ≥ 2. These patients received dietary counseling, nutritional supplementation, adapted physical activity guidance or physiotherapy assistance, or were admitted to post-care facilities. At 6 months post-discharge, 91.0% of the 136 patients (n = 119) were evaluated and 36.0% had persistent malnutrition, 14.3% complained of a significant decrease in muscle strength and 14.9% had a performance status > 2. Obesity was more frequent in patients with impairment than in those without (52.8% vs. 31.0%; p = 0.0071), with these patients being admitted more frequently to ICUs (50.9% vs. 31.3%; p = 0.010). Among those with persistent symptoms, 10% had psychiatric co-morbidities (mood disorders, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress syndrome), 7.6% had prolonged pneumological symptoms and 4.2% had neurological symptoms. CONCLUSIONS Obese subjects as well as patients who have stayed in intensive care have a higher risk of functional loss or undernutrition 6 months after a severe COVID infection. Malnutrition and loss of muscle strength should be considered in the clinical assessment of these patients.