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Organ damage possible even with a mild course: Hamburg study shows the dangers of a corona infection

Hamburg researchers examined the consequences of mild corona infections on the organs. The findings are “of utmost importance” – also with regard to Omikron.

Hamburg – An infection with the coronavirus * can take different courses. Some people show hardly any symptoms, while others have to be treated in the intensive care unit or even die. Researchers at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have now found that even mild to moderate Covid courses can lead to organ damage in the medium term.

Corona infection: Hamburg researchers are investigating effects on organs

The analysis supported by the City of Hamburg as part of the large-scale health study “Hamburg City Health Study (HCHS)” was published on Wednesday (January 5th) as a so-called fast-track publication in the European Heart Journal . The researchers examined the cardiovascular and vascular system, the lungs, the kidneys and the brain for function, structure and possible consequential damage, an average of ten months after surviving a corona infection *.

A total of 443 study participants between the ages of 45 and 74 stated that they had no, mild or at most moderate symptoms at the time of their infection. According to the UKE, 93 percent of them were treated purely on an outpatient basis. None of the participants needed intensive medical care. The data from the studies were compared with a comparison group of 1328 people with similar demographic and social backgrounds who were not infected with the coronavirus *.

Corona study: Organ damage possible even with a mild course

The result: the researchers were able to determine signs of medium-term damage to the organs of the corona infected people compared to the control group. The lung volume was reduced by about three percent in the study participants. In addition, a slightly increased airway resistance was found. The heart examinations found that the pumping power decreased by an average of one to two percent. At the same time, the level of a special marker protein in the blood that provides information about the stress on the heart rose by 41 percent in those who have recovered.

The kidney function of the test subjects also decreased by two percent after surviving the Corona * infection. Another central result of the ultrasound tests was that the study participants were two to three times more likely to show signs of a previous leg vein thrombosis. When examining the brain function, no deterioration was found in comparison with the control group. In questionnaires, the infected were also asked about impairments in their quality of life. According to the assessments of the test persons, there were hardly any changes before their corona infection.

Ein Pfleger zieht sich beim Verlassen der Intensivstation für Corona-Patienten am Sana Klinikum Offenbach seinen Schutzkittel aus.


Organ damage is also possible after a mild corona infection. (Symbol image)

Corona study: Findings are “extremely important” – also with regard to Omikron

“The knowledge that even a mild course of the disease can lead to damage to various organs in the medium term is of utmost importance, especially with regard to the current Omikron variant, which mostly seems to be associated with milder symptoms,” explained Raphael Twerenbold, scientific study center director and cardiologist at the university Heart and Vascular Center of the UKE, and first author Elina Petersen, epidemiologist at the epidemiological study center of the UKE, in a press release.

“The results enable us to recognize possible organic secondary diseases at an early stage and to initiate the appropriate therapeutic measures,” said Stefan Blankenberg, medical director of the University Heart and Vascular Center of the UKE. Hamburg Senator Katharina Fegebank stated: “The fact that the first results of the world’s largest health study on the health consequences of Covid-19 are now available is a great success and an important signal in the pandemic.” (Ph)

Headline list image: © Sebastian Gollnow

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