TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - According to doctors, even though one can recover from COVID-19 the long term effects could be more severe than the virus itself. A Tucson medical director says being admitted in the ICU for too long can affect how your brain functions.
“Some people never go back to normal, but everyone is different,” Banner’s Medical Director, Dr. Christian Bime said.
Right now, COVID patients are spending an average of 25 days in intensive care units.
“It only takes about a week for it to seriously affect someone’s health,” said Bime.
He adds aside from lung disease, ICU patients could experience heart problems due to extensive hospital stays.
“In some patients, we’re starting to see blood clots in the arteries and veins which can lead to strokes. We’re seeing an increase in strokes in patients who don’t have a history of strokes,” he added.
Bime said the effects of COVID are still not fully understood, but researchers are basing them on what they’ve seen in flu patients.
“It definitely diminishes lung function. Some patients have lingering fatigue and joint pain. It can take a year to go to base line of well being,” said Bime.
Another effect doctors are seeing is impaired brain functionality.
“The medication we give patients is to keep them calm and to tolerate invasive devices. Those medications have effects on the brain that make people deleterious and could lead to PTSD in the future,” Bime added.
Doctors said pre-existing conditions play a huge role in the length of recovery and not every patient will experience these effects.
Experts also say, lengthy ICU stays create physical limitations and most patients require rehab to regain brain and physical functions.