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Case study: "I was pleased to be part of this study to help us learn more about long COVID"

Helping understand the effects of long COVID.

A patient who experienced lingering effects of coronavirus has explained why he took part in a study to help researchers understand longer-term implications of the condition. 

Stephen Marsh-Blades, from Old Trafford, Manchester, initially experienced some typical short-term symptoms when he tested positive for COVID-19. 

It was the second time he had contracted the virus and, like many people, he suffered from a loss of taste and smell and found himself feeling fatigued. 

However, he found that the sensation of feeling “rundown” would not go away. He said: “As the fatigue progressed, I began finding it harder to breathe and I got really tired in the mid-afternoon. I was struggling to walk upstairs and was feeling really rundown for weeks and months on end.”

After visiting his GP, the 53-year-old was referred to a specialist clinic providing support and assessment for people suffering from more sustained effects of COVID-19

It was during an appointment at the clinic that Stephen was offered the opportunity to be part of a research study looking at the characteristics and impact of long COVID. 

He said: “The doctor explained to me that information is still being gathered on what long COVID is and how it affects you. The only way that information can be gathered is by assessing people with long COVID and looking at the various different symptoms, so when I was asked if I would be willing to go for some extra tests to help that research I was happy to say yes.”

Stephen’s participation in the study involved undergoing a lung x-ray, a test for vascular eye issues and an echocardiogram. He was also asked to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours. 

Stephen, who is also registered with the NIHR initiative Research for the Future, said: “We’ve seen throughout the COVID pandemic how important it’s been for people to be part of research in order for us to have the vaccines and treatments that are now available to us. 

“I was pleased to be part of this study to help us learn more about long COVID and I would always encourage anyone who was interested in research to do it. And, in my case, I’ve also been getting a full health MOT on this study at the same time which has been very reassuring.”

To find out more about health and care research studies for coronavirus and other diseases, you sign-up now for the NHS-supported campaign, Research for the Future. Everyone aged 18 and over can register and help discover new ways to prevent, diagnose and manage illnesses. 

Registering means you will receive information about research opportunities along with details of how to take part. There are lots of different types of research you can take part in, including answering questionnaires, joining discussion groups, testing equipment, or taking part in trials to find new treatments.