Background: The objective of this study was to identify the prevalence of long COVID symptoms in a large cohort of people living with and affected by long COVID and identify any potential associated risk factors.
Methods: A prospective survey was undertaken of an inception cohort of confirmed people living with and affected by long COVID (aged 18-87 years). 14392 participants were recruited from 24 testing facilities across Bangladesh between June and November 2020. All participants had a previously confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and reported persistent symptoms and difficulties in performing daily activities. Participants who consented were contacted by face-to-face interview, and were interviewed regarding long COVID, and restriction of activities of daily living using post COVID-19 functional status scale. Cardiorespiratory parameters measured at rest (heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, maximal oxygen consumption, inspiratory and expiratory lung volume) were also measured.
Results: Among 2198 participants, the prevalence of long COVID symptoms at 12 weeks was 16.1%. Overall, eight long COVID symptoms were identified and in descending order of prominence are: fatigue, pain, dyspnoea, cough, anosmia, appetite loss, headache and chest pain. People living with and affected by long COVID experienced between 1 and 8 long COVID symptoms with an overall duration period of 21.8±5.2 weeks. Structural equation modelling predicted the length of long COVID to be related to younger age, female gender, rural residence, prior functional limitation and smoking.
Conclusion: In this cohort, at 31 weeks post diagnosis, the prevalence of long COVID symptoms was 16.1%. The risk factors identified for presence and longer length of long COVID symptoms warrant further research and consideration to support public health initiatives.
Keywords: COVID-19; cohort study; public health; respiratory infections.
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