A new study in Bangladesh has found that women who were hospitalised with severe cases of the novel coronavirus are experiencing more post-COVID complications than men.
The findings were shared at a seminar on the 'Long Term Sequel of Covid-19: A Longitudinal Follow-up Study in Dhaka Bangladesh' conducted jointly by ICDDR,B and the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on Tuesday.
The subjects of the study were patients treated at two hospitals in Dhaka between Dec 15, 2020 and Oct 30, 2021. The research followed up with 362 people over 18 years of age at intervals of one month, three months and five months after recovery from the disease to ask about any health complications. The study looked at the effects on patients’ neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory and mental health.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 differed between men and women as the incidence of post-COVID complications was up to four times higher in women than men, according to the study.
BSMMU Vice Chancellor Prof Md Sharfuddin Ahmed told reporters that women had weaker immune systems than men and when they were infected they were less likely to receive proper treatment on time.
“The regular cycles experienced by women (menstruation) lowers their immunity,” he said. “Women are regularly neglected and so they do not get timely treatment. Unless they are dying, they are not taken to the hospital. Sometimes men attend to their own treatment, but families do not take as much care of their women. Women also have greater tolerance and are reluctant to talk about their pain.”
The study also found that patients who were hospitalised with COVID and spent time in the ICU were two to three times more likely to have long-term complications than patients who were not hospitalised.
COVID patients above the age of 65 were found to have high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, swelling of the legs and numbness, tingling or pain in the hands and feet, and irregularities with taste and smell at twice the rate of those under the age of 40.
Diabetes patients who experienced severe coronavirus infections were nine to 11 times more likely to have high blood sugar despite taking regular diabetes medication than those who did not require hospitalisation.
COVID patients also experienced more issues with their kidneys and livers.
“The results of this study have played a very important role in determining the long-term negative effects of COVID and its patterns,” said ICDDR,B Executive Director Dr Tahmeed Ahmed.
"If those hospitalised with COVID-19 do not follow up regularly on medical care, the effectiveness of this study will be limited."