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UArizona tracking COVID’s long term effects

“Brain fog” and persistent fatigue
Posted at 6:22 PM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 20:22:23-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Not everyone who survives COVID 19 truly recovers from it. Some suffer lingering, sometimes dangerous problems that last long after the virus is gone. Now a University of Arizona doctor at Banner UMC is working to learn how to hold off the problems.

COVID 19 can attack more than your lungs. As Medical Director of Intensive Care at Banner UMC, Doctor Christian Bime has seen countless cases of COVID---and he’s seen the trouble the virus leaves behind for patients who survive.

He says patients may lose thirty to forty percent of their lung capacity.

“They'll still be able to function but not quite to the same capacity. And then we also finding problems with, you know, disruptions in the heart rhythm. Perhaps because of damage to the electrical conduction system of the heart.”

Some patients say COVID seems to have degraded their brain power. They complain about brain fog and say they can’t concentrate as well as they could before. Dr. Bime is trying to learn if that’s a consequence of COVID or the sedation a patient may receive during weeks on a ventilator.

“And so for the patients to be comfortable on the ventilator with a breathing tube down your throat requires that we give them a lot of medications to keep them calm, while those medications might induce some of these long term effects as well so there are multiple factors that combine to create this post viral syndrome that we're seeing.”

Doctor Bime says he’s gathering data from patients not just in Tucson but around the world, to better understand COVID’s long term effects and adjust treatments to reduce the virus long term impact.