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A new study led by Oxford researchers found that prior COVID-19 infection was associated with more uneven inflation of the lungs during normal breathing, smaller lung volumes, and greater respiratory dead space.

3D illustration of human body lung anatomy

As a respiratory disease, COVID-19 infection mainly affects the lungs. While most people recover completely, a significant number of individuals experience symptoms that can persist for weeks or months post COVID infection, sometimes referred to as ‘long-COVID’. It remains unclear whether these symptoms are associated with any long-term damage that reduces the function of the lungs and respiratory system.

To investigate this, a study led by the University of Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics with researchers from the Nuffield Department of Medicine and the Department of Chemistry used a novel computational approach to assess how COVID-19 may affect long-term lung function.

The study was based on 178 participants who were grouped into four categories:

  1. Control participants, who had not had COVID-19;
  2. Those who had COVID-19 and were managed in the community;
  3. Those who were hospitalised with COVID-19 but not admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU);
  4. Those who were admitted to an ICU with severe COVID-19 and in most cases received invasive mechanical ventilation.

The participants were studied six months and twelve months after COVID-19 infection, using a novel computational approach to assess lung function.

Read the full story on the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics website

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