The Apollo Hospitals Group has launched ‘Post-COVID Recover Clinics’ to address the rising incidence of COVID survivors needing medical attention and care for the mid and long term persistent ill-effects of the infection post-COVID recovery. Over 50% of COVID survivors continue to suffer from ailments like breathlessness, chest pain and heart issues, joint pains, vision problems, and memory loss, months after contracting the novel coronavirus.
The Post-COVID Recover Clinics will be manned by a dedicated team of specialists including neurologists and immunologists, Family Physician-assisted by a nurse, to aid patients to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19 and restore their normal health. The Post-COVID Recover Clinic will be functional at Apollo Hospitals at Jubilee Hills, Hyderguda, Secunderabad and DRDO.
As the COVID-19 infected patients coming for treatment is receding gradually, COVID survivors with myriad symptoms are thronging hospitals with simple health issues like fatigue, body aches, joint pains, lack of concentration to more severe and long-term health complications with one or other body organs being compromised, like lung fibrosis, severe lung scarring with lung losing its elasticity and ability to pump oxygen needing lung transplantation, Ischemic Heart Disease, strokes due to clot in the brain, kidney complications and more, as studies unravel newer insights about the disease. Most such patients were devoid of any of these health issues prior to COVID and some of them have already developed irreversible conditions, impacting them for a lifetime. This phenomenon is across the age and gender groups. This rush is in addition to the pre-COVID comorbid patients, who are the most vulnerable with heightened complications.
“Many patients who recovered from COVID-19 at our hospitals have been approaching us again with various symptoms. Apollo Hospitals Post-COVID Recover Clinics will address the health issues of such patients. These exclusive clinics will enable patients to connect with speciality care they need. We have framed protocols and trained the clinicians to ensure appropriate treatment for these patients. These clinics will help patients to recover fully from the consequences of COVID-19 and return to normal life speedily”, says Mr Y Subramanyam, Regional CEO, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad.
COVID-19 impacts almost all the vital organs in the body. Apart from acute events like stroke and myocardial infarction, chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension are part of the post-COVID syndrome. A number of sudden deaths in post-covid patients have been reported and most of these are attributed to acute cardiac events.
“COVID-19 attacks not just the lungs but other organs in the body and leaves behind lingering health issues. Some of the manifestations occur weeks and months after the treatment for acute phase is completed and the patient has recovered and impacts the well-being of individuals well beyond. While long-term problems are more common among patients who have been hospitalized, even patients who have recovered from a mild case can suffer from the prolonged effects of the virus. Some of the long-term effects may be severe and disabling in nature.
This specialized clinic will enable us to monitor symptoms of patients on an ongoing basis and delivery timely medical attention”, Dr Suneetha Narreddy, Consultant – Infectious Disease, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills. Initially, in January, February, we all thought COVID could be a mild disease like any other viral fever, unfortunately, it has proved us wrong and are learning about it continuously. COVID is a SARS problem and therefore knew that COVID too could have chronic problems along with fatigue in 30% to 35% patients, but what we discovered with COVID is lots more patients continue to have several problems like muscle pains, joint pains, loss of taste, fatigue, depression, anxiety for long periods, lot of these problems need to be treated proactively.
It is also presenting some serious problems, as COVID is a virus which affects every organ in the body, like loss of smell is due to a problem in the brain, the heart muscle gets weak, diabetes becomes extremely uncontrollable post-covid because COVID disease affects the pancreas. Therefore, Recover clinics provide tailor-made treatment for each COVID survivor depending on the problems he is afflicted off.
As the number of COVID cases are declining, we should not let our guard down, especially during the festive season, there is every scope for re-infection, the public should continue to avoid gatherings, continue physical distancing and all the necessary precautions she added. The recent incessant rains will only increase prospects of infections, may even have a combination of infections like COVID and Dengue or COVID and Malaria, there are already such indications.
“Before COVID-19, we were already facing a tsunami of NCDs that were responsible for over 70% of the deaths. The post-COVID syndrome is adding to this disease burden and if not addressed with a special focus will lead to an increase in morbidity and mortality beyond the pandemic with a large number of chronically ill individuals who have recovered from COVID.
Off-late we are hearing of some recovered patients after having come home, are succumbing to sudden deaths, this is due to blood clotting associated with COVID, to control clotting we use blood thinners, despite that people are getting massive heart attacks, strokes etc.
The specialised clinics will prevent acute components of the post-COVID syndrome from progressing further and effectively manage the chronic situations which form part of the post-COVID syndrome through a patient-focused, comprehensive, tele-consult and clinic-based program,” says Dr Ravindra Babu, Dy. Medical Superintendent, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.
A recent study by Oxford University indicated that some of the COVID 19 patients, discharged from hospitals, have abnormalities in multiple organs and that persistent inflammation caused problems for months after. Also, two to three months after the onset of COVID 19, 64% of patients suffered persistent breathlessness and 55% reported significant fatigue. MRI scans indicated abnormalities of lungs in 60% of such patients, in kidneys of 29%, in heart of 26% and in livers of 10%.
“COVID symptoms extend beyond three weeks from the onset of the first symptom. Chronic COVID 19 or Long COVID, extend beyond 12 weeks, this is a multisystem disease. Most of these patients are recovering with holistic support, symptomatic treatment, rest, gradual increase inactivity. Apollo recover clinics will extend post-Covid holistic care” says Dr Subba Reddy, Critical Care Specialist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills. The chances of the second wave is high, as it is already happening in other countries, so we need to continue to exercise lots of caution, he added.
The Post-COVID Recover Clinics are being launched initially at Apollo Hospitals treating COVID in Hyderabad, Chennai, Madurai, Bengaluru, Mysore, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Delhi, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.