Body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness of overweight COVID-19 survivors in different severity degrees: a cohort study

COVID-19 sequelae are varied, and whether they are temporary or permanent is still unknown. Identifying these sequelae may guide therapeutic strategies to improve these individuals' recovery. This prospective cohort aimed to assess body composition, cardiopulmonary fitness, and long-term symptoms of overweight individuals affected by COVID-19. Participants (n = 90) were divided into three groups according to the severity of acute COVID-19: mild (no hospitalization), moderate (hospitalization, without oxygen support), and severe/critical cases (hospitalized in Intensive Care Unit). We assessed body composition with a tetrapolar multifrequency bioimpedance, hemodynamic variables (heart rate, blood pressure, and peripheral oxygen saturation-SpO2) at rest, and the Bruce test with direct gas exchange. Two assessments with a one-year interval were performed. The most prevalent long-term symptoms were memory deficit (66.7%), lack of concentration (51.7%), fatigue (65.6%), and dyspnea (40%). Bruce test presented a time effect with an increase in the distance walked after 1 year just for severe/critical group (p < 0.05). SpO2 was significantly lower in the severe/critical group up to 5 min after the Bruce test when compared to the mild group, and diastolic blood pressure at the end of the Bruce test was significantly higher in the severe/critical group when compared to mild group (p < 0.05; for all comparisons). A time effect was observed for body composition, with increased lean mass, skeletal muscle mass, fat-free mass, and lean mass just for the severe/critical group after 1 year (p < 0.05). Cardiopulmonary fitness parameters did not differ among the groups, except for respiratory quotient with higher values for the severe/critical group when compared to itself after 1 year. All COVID-19 patients might present long-term sequelae, regardless of the acute disease severity. Reassessing and identifying the most prevalent long-term sequelae are essential to perform more precise health promotion interventions.