Two young adults, without risk factors and who were in intensive care for covid-19, warned about the disease that is a “Russian roulette” and that leaves several sequelae that affect life after hospital discharge.
“Covid-19 is not a flu. It does not only affect older people, it does not only affect people with comorbidities or risk factors. It’s a kind of Russian roulette that can affect anyone and we never know when and to what level it can affect us,” said Marta Rangel, 39, who was infected on her birthday.
In a statement at the launch of the “Return Pós-Covid” initiative, organized by the Professional Rehabilitation Center of Gaia, the journalist and creator of digital content reported that she was infected during a “mere lunch with the closest family”, where “everyone” was followed. recommended care” of protection.
According to Marta Rangel, after the first symptoms and after receiving confirmation of a positive test, the disease “began to escalate very quickly”, which led to her admission to Hospital de São Francisco Xavier (Lisbon) and then to intensive care, where he was always conscious and using oxygen in a non-invasive way.
After being discharged from hospital in early December, Marta Rangel, who “has always been a healthy, active person without any risk factor”, struggled with several sequelae of the disease, having been followed up in two hospitals during a “very disabling” phase. in which he was still recovering.
“To get up from the sofa and go to the bathroom, which is ten feet away, I had to cling to the walls. I couldn’t even be talking. I was very tired and was very short of breath”, recalled the self-employed journalist.
“I believe that, if I had had to go back to work straight away, I would certainly have had some difficulties, because the covid infection was quite disabling for some time”, he pointed out, when advancing that he lost 60% of the muscle capacity he had before the disease, but that now, about six months later, he feels “practically in a normal state”.
As for Ricardo Oliveira, who was induced into a coma and who was in intensive care for more than a month at Hospital Pedro Hispano (Matosinhos), what most “punishes him at this moment is at the psychological level”, despite having physical limitations resulting from thrombosis who suffered.
“I had many sequels for the rest of my life”, guaranteed the young businessman, 31 years old, who, after recovering from the illness, managed to fulfill his “dream” and opened his own restaurant.
“We cannot give up and we have to move on. I serve the table with a limp, but it has to be. We cannot let the virus beat us”, stressed Ricardo Oliveira who, like Marta Rangel, had no risk factors for covid-19, but who now has to deal with fatigue as one of the sequelae of the disease.
Sandra Brás, an internist at the Hospital de Santa Maria (Lisbon), also took part in the initiative. Since March 2020, she has coordinated a covid-19 inpatient unit, which has already treated approximately 2,500 patients.
According to the doctor, the face-to-face consultation created in May 2020 for post-covid follow-up, which gives priority to patients who had a serious and critical illness, intends to minimize the impact that the sequelae have on quality of life, family dynamics and activity professional of the recovered.
After about 13 months of activity in this consultation, Sandra Brás identified three major groups of problems in its users: physical manifestations, psychiatric neurocognitive manifestations and social and economic issues.
“The virus does not choose age, it does not choose sex, it does not choose professions”, warned the specialist, adding that the consultation at the Hospital de Santa Maria is followed by “construction workers, lawyers, doctors, translators, teachers, supermarket employees” .
“And if those who have a more demanding physical activity find themselves limited by joint pain and fatigue, there is a group of patients whose work activity is more intellectual – I remember the teachers in particular – for whom these difficulties and these complaints neurocognitive factors are extremely striking”, stressed the doctor.
In addition to a delay in returning to professional activity, which happens to most patients, there is a “great fear of not being able to perform the functions as they did before the disease”, which, in some cases, is generating anxiety and depression, he added.
“Many patients are afraid of going back to work, going out and being with family and friends. The fear of reinfection is, for some patients, very intense and very emasculating”, said Sandra Brás.
For Diogo Pereira, a neurologist on the NeuroCovid study team at the Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto, “it is certain that there is a clear neurological repercussion” of the infection by the virus that causes covid-19, both in the acute phase of the disease, but also in the period post infection.
“The conditions such as cognitive changes, headaches and sleep disorders are probably the main causes of functional impact and deterioration in quality of life, and it is important to understand the rate of persistence of these symptoms”, said a neurologist.
For the future, specialists want to find out whether these neurological symptoms are related to the strain of virus that caused the infection, whether there are genetic factors in the patient that are related to these neurological changes and the reversibility of the symptoms.
The “Post-Covid Return” initiative is intended, through training actions and subsequent follow-up, for people who have recovered from the active phase of infection, but who continue to experience difficulties in their daily lives and who experience or anticipate limitations on your professional performance.
This response is implemented in four poles in Porto, Coimbra, Lisbon and Faro, but also foresees online initiatives.
In Portugal, 17,044 people died of the 855,951 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.