COVID-19 is primarily a lung disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. However, the effect on the whole person must be considered regularly. Thus, there is often involvement of the vascular system, heart, kidneys and other organs. In the majority of patients, the course of the disease is mild and no special follow-up care is required. However, some patients become severely ill and require hospitalization and possibly even intensive medical care if pneumonia is present. After a severe course of the disease, many patients have persistent symptoms. In addition, after the initial improvement, some patients may develop complications due to scarring of the lungs or impaired blood flow to the lungs. The goal of structured follow-up care is to identify and treat the cause of persistent complaints. Of utmost importance here is the prevention of permanent damage.

COVID-19, SARS-CoV2 Pneumonie

Structured COVID-19 follow-up

Approximately 4 weeks after completion of acute treatment, an initial internal medicine pulmonary examination should be performed. This involves taking stock of the symptoms that persist. Often at this point, there is still coughing, shortness of breath, and possibly still a need for oxygen. In addition, mental disorders, weight loss, muscle wasting and general weakness must be considered. New symptoms must also be recognized here. Particularly noteworthy are thromboses and embolisms as well as problems of the heart.

Approximately 12 weeks after the completion of acute treatment, the first comprehensive examination is performed. After reassessment of the course of treatment, radiological follow-up of the radiographic findings should now also be performed. Pulmonary function testing is used to assess the airways, lung volumes, and the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen. Assessment of the heart and pulmonary circulation is performed with ECG and cardiac ultrasound. In case of pathological findings, further clarification is required. Depending on the problem, this may require high-resolution computed tomography of the lungs, computed tomographic vascular examination of the lungs, or other examinations.

If there are no symptoms and no pathological findings 12 weeks after the end of acute treatment, it can be assumed that the disease has been completely cured.