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New research: Higher risk of death and disease in Covid-19 survivors

The researchers have catalogued the numerous diseases associated with Covid-19, providing a big-picture overview of the long-term complications.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 5, 2021 10:57:31 am
Covid-19 survivors, post covid recovery, covid-19 cases in india, coronavirus cases in india, health disease, heart diseases, indian express explainedAt the six-month mark, excess deaths among all Covid-19 survivors were estimated at eight people per 1,000 patients. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal/Representational)

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

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