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From dizziness to heart failure: Canadian researchers study long-term complications of COVID-19

Last Updated Jul 29, 2021 at 11:53 am MDT

Ambulances are shown outside a hospital in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL (CityNews) — A Quebec study of adults previously infected with COVID-19 is attempting to evaluate the long-term implications of the virus — who suffers from debilitating symptoms, what patterns can be identified and what can be done to help.

The Impact Quebec COVID-19 long haul study will assess the health of 200 participants over the course of one year.

The study is led by researcher Dr. Thao Huynh of Montreal’s Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in collaboration with researchers at McGill University, Universite de Sherbrooke and the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal.

“Our intention is to identify who will suffer from post-COVID symptoms and what can we do to help them,” said Huynh. “We will provide them an initial meeting, do blood work, measurement of the inflammatory blood markers, do imaging of the heart and then also provide follow-up and support during one year.”

Of the nearly 200 million people who have contracted COVID-19 worldwide, an undetermined number of those have experienced long-term symptoms, says Huynh. She wants to get a better picture of what that number may be.

The study will examine cardiovascular complications, impacts on the neuro-cognitive, gastrointestinal and urinary systems. Long-term adverse health reactions include: acute coronary syndromes, hospitalizations for heart failure, influenza or respiratory disease, strokes, thrombosis and acute kidney injuries requiring dialysis or hospitalization.

Researchers will also try to determine if the type and severity of the symptoms are determined by age, sex and gender.

Josee Laroche is one of the patients who was sick with COVID-19 and still experiencing symptoms.

“I’ve been diagnosed by Dr. Huynh with severe hypotension, severe POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), chronic fatigue and post-COVID syndrome,” she said.

Laroche told CityNews she doesn’t “have quality of life anymore.”

The study’s researchers are currently aiming to recruit adults who have cardiac dysfunction such as shortness of breath, palpitation, dizziness or chest pain.