Irish exercise study gives new hope to long-Covid patients

People suffering from long Covid have been given renewed hope after an Irish study found fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms improved after six weeks of virtual training sessions.

The findings come from Ireland’s first exercise-based recovery program for Covid-19 at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. The study, presented at this year’s European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon, Portugal, is a major step in research surrounding the long Covid, which is affecting thousands of people here.

Kate O’Brien, Physiotherapist at St James’s, said: “Recovery from Covid-19 is complex and many patients continue to suffer from persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, debilitating fatigue, joint pain, chest pain and more, for weeks, months and for some people, even years after an acute infection.

“These symptoms can occur regardless of how severe their initial SARS-CoV-2 infection may have been, and can affect their quality of life, their ability to exercise, work and resume normal social roles.

“Many patients express a desire to return to exercise but don’t know where to start and are too anxious or anxious to try it themselves for fear it may make their symptoms worse.

“Existing exercise courses for patients with other conditions do not meet their needs and so we have developed a special recovery program for Covid-19 patients.”

The programme, the first in Ireland, will include two 50-minute virtual training classes per week for a minimum of six weeks. Patients perform circuits consisting of squats, lunges, stretches, and other aerobic and strength-based exercises.

The intensity of the sessions gradually increases over time as clients build their exercise tolerance.

About 60 patients – 42 percent of them men – with an average age of 45 who had persistent symptoms for at least six weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19 were referred to the recovery program. Symptoms included shortness of breath on exertion, reduced exercise tolerance, and muscle weakness.

Preliminary data on the first 40 patients who completed the program were presented in Lisbon.

Completion of the program resulted in a significant increase in the distance participants were able to cover in six minutes. They were able to walk an average of 34 percent further than at the start of the study – 512.9 m versus 382.4 m.

Improvements were observed in 93.5 percent of patients – defined as the ability to walk at least 30 m – the rest experienced no change. Patients also experienced a clinically significant improvement in shortness of breath and an improvement in quality of life.

Improvements were also noted in areas such as the ability to carry out everyday activities.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Ireland from the pandemic surpassed 7,000 yesterday, reaching 7,016.

The overall trend in infections is optimistic, although the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital rose to 535 yesterday from 520 on Sunday, possibly due to the weekend effect, with a drop expected in the coming days. Irish exercise study gives new hope to long-Covid patients

Fry Electronics Team

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