“The post-resuscitation syndrome is made up of three entities”

As the Covid-19 epidemic resumes, Guillaume Thiéry, professor of intensive care medicine and head of the polyvalent intensive care unit at CHU de St-Étienne, and Nicolas Terzi, university professor at the University of Grenoble and physician hospital of the CHU Grenoble Alpes, provide us with their knowledge on 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 Thiery and Nicolas Terzi – Post-resuscitation syndrome was highlighted by the Covid-19 outbreak, but it was first officially described in 2012.

Is it a known pathology?

No, because until recently doctors were only interested in what happened in intensive care, and not afterwards. In addition, general practitioners do not always relate the stay in intensive care with the symptoms that patients manifest after 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, either due to 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 that leads to admission to intensive care, and the length of stay in intensive care. If medical intervention is strong, if the underlying disease is severe, and if resuscitation is long, the person is 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 beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, they recover worse.

Is there a profile of people more affected than others?

No, women are not more affected than men and vice versa. The same for young and old.

Do we know how many people suffer from post-resuscitation syndrome after being hospitalized due to Covid-19?

Well over half of the patients who have been hospitalized in intensive care due to covid-19 suffer post-resuscitation syndrome, to varying degrees.

What are the symptoms of post-resuscitation syndrome?

Post-resuscitation syndrome is composed of three entities: physical sequelae, cognitive sequelae, and psychological sequelae.

Physical sequelae can include muscle wasting, chronic fatigue, joint stiffness, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, trouble urinating, and a disturbed sex life, although the latter aspect is still poorly understood.

Cognitive problems can be trouble concentrating, reading, or organizing ideas.

Psychologically, people with post-resuscitation syndrome may also have nightmares, suffer from anxiety and depression, or even develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

How long do they last?

Patients can experience symptoms for up to five years after hospitalization, and unfortunately, some sequelae are permanent. However, most problems can go away if they are 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 should 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 see your GP, telling him there has been a step in intensive care and asking him to contact the intensive care teams who have managed the problem.

Are they offered psychological follow-up?

Unfortunately no, it is a weak link in the system, mainly due to the fact that there are not enough resources allocated to psychiatry in France, therefore not enough care offers.


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