Some chronic Covid patients suffering from symptoms including fatigue and shortness of breath show signs of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus, suggests a McMaster University study that builds on similar findings elsewhere.
Manali Mukherjee, who led the study and is a respiratory researcher, said two specific abnormal antibodies, or autoantibodies, which attack healthy tissue and cause autoimmune disease, persist in about 30 percent of patients a year after infection. is
The research was based on blood samples from patients who were diagnosed with Covid-19 between August 2020 and September 2021 and received treatment at two hospitals in Vancouver and another in Hamilton.
Persistence of autoantibodies for a year or more points to the need for patients to see a specialist who can test for signs of autoimmune disease, she said, for conditions that also include type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
“If you have symptoms of Covid for longer than 12 months after getting Covid, please consider getting a rheumatic test, just to make sure there is no path to systemic disease,” Mukherjee said.
The study, in which Drs from the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia Also involved was Chris Carlston, published Thursday in the European Respiratory Journal and involving 106 patients.
The work supports emerging research on chronic COVID, which mostly affects women, Mukherjee said.
A study of 300 patients by United States researchers published earlier this year in the journal Cell showed for the first time that autoantibodies in people infected with the virus can lead to prolonged COVID symptoms, but that it was limited to three to four months after recovery. , Mukherjee said.
‘There is no such thing as going through a long covid,’ says the patient
A Swiss study of 90 patients published last April in the journal Allergy suggested that autoantibodies may be present in 40 percent of patients one year after infection.
“But this study confirms the presence of specific autoantibodies and is consistently associated with fatigue and shortness of breath, two core chronic COVID symptoms, at 12 months,” she said.
Mukherjee, who herself contracted prolonged Covid in January 2021 after starting research on the illness, said she experienced fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches and brain fog.
“The headaches were so bad, and they happen again. You’ll be fine, and then all of a sudden, you’re up again,” she said, adding that she’s back to about 75 percent of her normal energy level but that she’s a priority. Have learned to give. Health working long hours and ensuring she gets enough sleep.
Mukherjee is now studying Covid patients over two years to see how their levels of autoantibodies change over the long term.
Calgary resident Sarah Olson said since she contracted the illness in January 2021, COVID has prevented her from returning to her job as a kindergarten teacher for a long time.
“There’s no such thing as palpitations. You just get sicker and sicker in new ways,” said Olson, who has a nine-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter and deals with brain fog, fatigue, seizures. Breathing and other symptoms.
“Until this spring, I couldn’t stand still for long, but I could walk at a moderate pace. Now, I can’t do that anymore. I need a walker. I’ll be 41 this Saturday, and I need a walker. .”
Olsen said she has also been diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, although Mukherjee said a definitive link between that debilitating, long-term condition and prolonged covid has not been established.
Olson said the main concern is that he will never recover from Covid for a long time.
“If I can’t manage my symptoms by resting and pacing without ever getting stressed, I have every reason to believe I’m going to get worse,” she said through tears.
“Research needs to make some progress because they’re still trying to understand what the root cause is,” Olson said, adding that it could mean treatment options are far from over.
“We’re almost three years in and we’re still in the dark in a lot of ways.”