As the Covid-19 epidemic resumes, Guillaume Thiéry, professor of intensive care medicine and head of the multipurpose intensive care unit at the CHU de St-Étienne, and Nicolas Terzi, university professor at the University of Grenoble and hospital practitioner at the CHU Grenoble Alpes, provide us with their knowledge of post-resuscitation syndrome, still poorly understood by the general public and health professionals.
Why doctor – Since when do we know about the existence of post-resuscitation syndrome?
Guillaume Thiéry and Nicolas Terzi – The Covid-19 outbreak brought post-resuscitation syndrome into the spotlight, but it was first officially described in 2012.
Is it a well-known pathology?
No, because until recently, doctors were only interested in what happened in intensive care, and not after. In addition, general practitioners do not always make the link between the stay in intensive care and the symptoms complained of by patients after their discharge.
Does post-resuscitation syndrome only affect people infected with Covid-19?
No, post-resuscitation syndrome can affect anyone who has been in intensive care, whether because of Covid-19 or another pathology.
What can favor the appearance of a post-resuscitation syndrome?
Post-resuscitation syndrome can be favored by three factors: the invasive nature of the organ replacement techniques used, the severity of the pathology which involves hospitalization in intensive care and the length of stay in intensive care. If the medical intervention is heavy, if the causative disease is serious and if the resuscitation is long, the person will be more likely to develop post-resuscitation syndrome. We also know that when the person in intensive care cannot see their loved ones, as was the case at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, they recover less well.
Is there a profile of people more affected than others?
No, women are not more affected than men and vice versa. Ditto for young and old.
Do we know how many people suffer from post-resuscitation syndrome after being hospitalized because of Covid-19?
Well over half of patients who have been hospitalized in intensive care because of covid-19 suffer from post-resuscitation syndrome, to varying degrees.
What are the symptoms of post-resuscitation syndrome?
The post-resuscitation syndrome is composed of three entities: physical sequelae, cognitive sequelae and psychological sequelae.
The physical sequelae can include muscle loss, chronic fatigue, stiffness in the joints, difficulty swallowing, breathing difficulties, problems urinating and a disturbed sex life, although this last aspect is still little known.
Cognitive problems can be difficulty concentrating, reading or organizing ideas.
Psychologically, people with post-resuscitation syndrome can also have nightmares, suffer from anxiety and depression, or even develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
How long do they last?
Patients can suffer from symptoms for up to five years after their hospitalization, and some sequelae are unfortunately permanent. Nevertheless, the majority of the problems can disappear if they are well taken care of.
Can they be disabling in everyday life?
Yes, a post-resuscitation syndrome can prevent you from resuming a normal family, romantic, social or professional life.
What do you recommend to people coming out of intensive care?
They must not minimize their symptoms, for example by telling themselves that it is normal to be tired all the time after a hospital stay. If difficulties persist, you should consult your general practitioner, telling him that there has been a passage in intensive care, and asking him to contact the intensive care teams who have managed the problem.
Is psychological follow-up offered to them?
Unfortunately no, it is a weak link in the system, mainly due to the fact that there are not enough resources put into psychiatry in France, therefore not enough care offers.
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