One year after being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 75% of COVID-19 survivors had physical, mental, and/or cognitive issues. The MONITOR-IC project, sponsored by Radboud University Medical Center, is a large-scale study in which the health status of ICU survivors is tracked through questionnaires for up to five years after ICU admission.
The study was done among 246 COVID-19 patients (176 men/70 women) who were treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) in the Netherlands and was published in the scientific journal JAMA. Their average age was 61. They were questioned how they were doing one year after being in the ICU using questionnaires. This is the first scientific study of long-term difficulties among COVID-19 ICU survivors anywhere in the world.
This study shows that three quarters of the COVID-19 ICU survivors experience problems one-year post ICU. These are primarily physical problems, whereby half of the patients experience feelings of fatigue. Other physical problems are e.g. a reduced condition, pain, muscle weakness and shortness of breath. Also, mental symptoms are common; one in five COVID-19 ICU survivors experience feelings of anxiety or post-traumatic stress. Furthermore, one in six have cognitive problems such as memory or attention problems.
These various problems negatively affect former ICU patients’ daily live. Over half of them indicate that they have work-related problems because of the health problems: they reduced their working hours; they are still on sick leave or have even given up their job.
Principal investigator Marieke Zegers of Radboud university medical center: “This study shows what an incredible impact an ICU admission has on the lives of former COVID-19 patients. Even after one year, half of them is tired or experience lack of the energy to fully resume their work”.