Olympic gold medalist Alex Copax may be accustomed to pressing bobsleigh and experiencing a completely different type of shortness of breath after being hospitalized at COVID-19 last year.

He had been oxygenated for two months and experienced many other health problems, including lung and systemic blood clots, several months after COVID-19 infection.

“It was only a matter of time before I had difficulty breathing and it was only a matter of time before my body healed,” Copax said.

It took him almost four months to get up and breathe normally again. But without the official diagnosis of the so-called Long COVID, he was 31 at the time and had no answer as to what was happening.

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In this way, he participated in a new Canadian study in patients suffering from post-COVID syndrome. This study identified the potential main causes of continuing to experience respiratory problems months after being infected with COVID-19.

A team of researchers based in five centers in Ontario focused on microscopic abnormalities in the way oxygen moves from the lungs to the blood vessels of long COVID patients.

This anomaly may explain why these patients are out of breath and unable to perform vigorous activity, said Grace, a senior researcher at the Tier 1 Canadian Research Committee for Lung Imaging at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University. Paraga says.

“These sensations of shortness of breath are in perfect agreement with our finding that we are not moving oxygen as efficiently as we need to,” she said.

Many long COVID patients have been confused about what’s wrong with them, as regular laboratory and chest tests come back with regular measurements.

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“It’s very exciting for us to find what’s really wrong, it’s in the lungs, not the patient’s head,” Parraga said.

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The study, funded by the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, investigated 34 patients (12 admitted with COVID-19 and 22 not admitted).

Patients were assessed about 9 months after the onset of infection and still experienced many debilitating symptoms.

Using MRI techniques developed by Western University that are five times more sensitive and five times more spatial resolution than CT scans, researchers can see how small branches of the air ducts of the lungs transfer oxygen to red blood cells. confirmed. Their patients.

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Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Paraga explained that when this oxygen flow to the red blood cells was cut off, the brain began to say “breath more” and felt short of breath.

All 34 patients who participated in the study experienced problems with the level of oxygen absorbed by their red blood cells.

And all the same results were obtained regardless of the severity of the symptoms and whether or not they were hospitalized for COVID-19. This is also an important discovery.

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“All these patients had this abnormality. They all had really serious symptoms, so their exercise scores were low, they were out of breath when exercising, and blood oxygen levels at their fingertips after exercising. When I measured it, it was also low. “

And these external measurements correspond to the abnormalities that researchers found in lung MRI measurements, she said.

“The point is that we know what’s wrong.”

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The reason for this anomaly is still unknown. However, identifying this as a possible trigger for these patients’ symptoms is an important step in trying to learn more, Parraga said.

“Now that we know what’s going on, we can move on to why. And I think the important thing is why some people go there and some don’t. Who goes there and How can you predict who won’t go? So it will take a little longer to get there. “

Dr. Michael Nicholson, a pulmonologist who co-authored the post-acute COVID-19 program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ontario, said the findings show that patients continue to have symptoms months later. He states that he can identify why he is experiencing it. He gets COVID-19.

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In the past, routine tests performed on these patients did not know what was happening to them, so they often feel like they are imagining their illness.

“There’s nothing absolutely obvious, so these individuals are given the answer that something unusual is actually in this very specific location downstream of the route,” Nicholson said. I am saying.

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“For these other individuals, now we can say,’I understand your symptoms, I think we have a better understanding of what is happening. We don’t necessarily know it completely. “… That’s positive for them. “

The research team acknowledges that the sample size of this peer-reviewed study is small, so the results should be considered “exploratory and hypothetical.”

However, it could not alleviate their excitement with the prospect of advancing a long understanding of COVID and taking a step closer to understanding how to handle it.

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“I think this is, so to speak, a scientific Pandora’s box that opens and says,’OK, we need to focus on why this is happening,'” Nicholson said. ..

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What is the cause of long COVID?Canadian researchers believe they have found important clues-nationwide

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