Coronavirus | 98% of discharged persons show lung recovery

At post-COVID-19 ward, doctors assess lung function, cardiac capacity of persons

Published - October 29, 2020 01:36 am IST - CHENNAI

Complete resolution:  A six-minute walk test under way as part of the post-COVID care at the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate.

Complete resolution: A six-minute walk test under way as part of the post-COVID care at the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate.

Healthcare providers at the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, Chennai, have been assessing the lung function and cardiac capacity of persons discharged after COVID-19 treatment by getting them to take a six-minute walk and a few steps up and down a platform. For a closer look at their lung conditions, a repeat CT (computed tomography) chest scan is done, and 98% patients have shown complete resolution of lung involvement.

The six-minute walk test around a demarcated space and the Harvard step test, along with an ECG, are part of assessments at the post-COVID-19 outpatient (OP) ward at the hospital. Six weeks after discharge, patients are screened and tested for the functional capacity of their lungs, heart and eyes, and their psychological well-being, according to a press release.

“The post-COVID-19 OP is a one-stop comprehensive facility for discharged persons. We assess the lung function of the patients through the walk test. We measure their oxygen saturation (SPO2) levels and heart rate before and after the test. The Harvard step test is a basic test to assess their effort tolerance. We assess both their pulmonary and cardiac capacity,” R. Jayanthi, dean of the hospital, said. Started on October 1, the OP has screened 186 persons — 148 men and 38 women — so far. As many as 85 of them had diabetes, 48 had hypertension and two had coronary artery disease. The OP has an automated Body Mass Index machine, while vitals such as pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate are checked as well.

Apart from lab services, including complete blood count and random blood sugar checks, the facility provides CT chest scans, lung function tests and using computerised spirometry that provides details on functional capacity of lungs and eye tests, for visual acuity and fundus, psychiatric counselling, among other things and breathing and simple physical exercises, followed by counselling by yoga and naturopathy practitioners.

Patients with 20% and higher lung involvement during hospitalisation are subjected to a repeat CT chest scan after six weeks to check for complete resolution or residual lesions. Of the 132 patients subjected to repeat CT chest scans, more than 98% showed complete resolution of lung involvement, while others showed resolving residual lesions, she said. Some patients who had more than 75% lung involvement in their initial CT scans also showed complete resolution during their visits to the OP.

The resolution of lung involvement due to COVID-19, doctors said, could be attributed to proper stratification and timely administration of drugs. Those with residual lesions were asked to come in for review after six weeks.

Three patients had significant psychiatric symptoms, for which clinical counselling was provided, the release said.

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