UKE presents results of world's largest study on coronavirus

New findings on repercussions - possible damage even in mild cases
06 January 2022
UKE Hauptgebäude

A mild to moderate case of COVID-19 can impact various organs, according to a survey by the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) published Wednesday (January 5, 2022) in the European Heart Journal. A total of 443 people aged from 45 to 74 years, who had suffered a coronavirus infection, have been examined for the "Hamburg City Health Study" (HCHS) so far, UKE said. Around 93 per cent of the participants were treated purely as outpatients and none required intensive care. Patients with mild symptoms showed more signs of medium-term organ damage compared to unaffected participants. Impaired functions of the heart, lungs and kidneys as well as a higher susceptibility to thrombosis are possible.

No restrictions in brain performance and quality of life

The participants' lung volume was reduced by about three per cent on average compared to a control group, the kidney function by two per cent and the pumping power of the heart by one to two per cent. The patients also showed signs of thrombosis two to three times more frequently. Brain performance did not deteriorate when compared to the control group and a patient's quality of life was not impaired, the survey found.

New findings have "highest significance" for omicron strain

"The finding that even a mild course of the disease can damage various organs in the medium term is of utmost importance, especially with regard to the current omicron strain, which seems to be associated with milder symptoms in most cases," said Prof. Dr. Raphael Twerenbold, Head of UKE's Scientific Study Centre, and Elina Petersen, first author. Prof. Dr. Stefan Blankenberg, Medical Director of the UKE's University Heart and Vascular Centre, noted: "The results enable us to identify possible organic sequelae early and to initiate the appropriate therapeutic measures."

UKE conducting world's largest local health survey

Scientists in Hamburg are setting standards with HCHS,” according to Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science and Research, adding: "The fact that initial results of the world's largest health survey on the consequences of COVID-19 are now available is a great success and an important signal in the pandemic." Around 45,000 residents of Hamburg aged between 45 and 74 will be examined over a longer period of time to identify the risks of heart attack, atrial fibrillation, stroke, dementia or heart failure as part of the HCHS survey.