Updated: May 5, 2021 10:57:31 am
As the Covid-19 pandemic has progressed, it has become clear that many survivors — even those who had mild cases — continue to manage a variety of health problems long after the initial infection should have resolved. In a comprehensive study of long Covid-19, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have shown that Covid-19 survivors — including those not sick enough to be hospitalized — have an increased risk of death in the six months following diagnosis with the virus.
The researchers also have catalogued the numerous diseases associated with Covid-19, providing a big-picture overview of the long-term complications of Covid-19 and revealing the massive burden this disease is likely to place on the world’s population in the coming years. The study, involving more than 87,000 Covid-19 patients and nearly 5 million control patients in a US database, appears online in the journal Nature.
The investigators showed that, after surviving the initial infection (beyond the first 30 days of illness), Covid-19 survivors had an almost 60% increased risk of death over the following six months compared with the general population. At the six-month mark, excess deaths among all Covid-19 survivors were estimated at eight people per 1,000 patients. Among patients who were ill enough to be hospitalised with Covid-19 and who survived beyond the first 30 days of illness, there were 29 excess deaths per 1,000 patients over the following six months.
The researchers confirmed that, despite being initially a respiratory virus, long Covid-19 can affect nearly every organ system in the body. Evaluating 379 diagnoses of diseases possibly related to Covid-19, 380 classes of medications prescribed and 62 laboratory tests administered, the researchers identified newly diagnosed major health issues that persisted in Covid-19 patients over at least six months and that affected nearly every organ and regulatory system in the body, including:
Respiratory system: persistent cough, shortness of breath and low oxygen levels in the blood.
Nervous system: stroke, headaches, memory problems and problems with senses of taste and smell.
Mental health: anxiety, depression, sleep problems and substance abuse.
Metabolism: new onset of diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
Cardiovascular system: acute coronary disease, heart failure, heart palpitations and irregular heart rhythms.
Gastrointestinal system: constipation, diarrhoea and acid reflux.
Kidney: acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease that can, in severe cases, require dialysis.
Coagulation regulation: blood clots in the legs and lungs.
Skin: rash and hair loss.
Musculoskeletal system: joint pain and muscle weakness.
General health: malaise, fatigue and anemia.
While no survivor suffered from all of these problems, many developed a cluster of several issues that have a significant impact on health and quality of life.
Source: Washington University School of Medicine
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.