Health

1 in 5 people with COVID-19 develop a persistent condition


REMOVENow, it’s very clear that COVID-19 doesn’t always make the illness go away quickly and without leaving a trace. Millions of people in the United States and beyond around the world, have long COVIDname for symptoms that persist for months or even years after infection.

The current, a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helps quantify how often COVID-19 is associated with subsequent health problems. Among U.S. adults under the age of 65 who have been infected with COVID-19, about one-fifth have developed a health condition possibly related to the virus, the report said. Among people 65 and older, about a quarter have the disease.

To reach those findings, CDC researchers used electronic health records to track more than 350,000 US adults with confirmed COVID-19 cases. They followed these people for up to a year after they were diagnosed to see if they developed at least one of 26 post-COVID-19 disease-related conditions — including heart disease, heart problems, and other health problems. respiratory problems, asthma, kidney disease, neurological condition, diabetes and mental health conditions. For comparison, they also followed a group of 1.6 million US adults who did not have COVID-19 disease, but sought medical care for other reasons during the study period.


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From that comparison, it is clear that COVID-19 survivors are at increased risk of developing nearly all 26 conditions. The most significant risk difference between COVID-19 survivors and the general population is the development of respiratory symptoms and pulmonary embolism, a type of blood clot that can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain. . People who already have COVID-19 are twice as likely to develop both conditions.

There are some restrictions on the data. The researchers used a specific network of electronic health records, so the patient base may not be perfectly representative of the US population. It is also possible that doctors have taken a closer look at the analyzed conditions in COVID-19 survivors than in those who have not yet had the virus, or that some people have had undiagnosed conditions before. they are infected. (Those with a recent, documented history of one of 26 conditions were excluded from the study.) The researchers also did not take into account a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status and data collection. only takes place until November 2021, so can’t say how newer COVID-19 variants like Omicron match the picture.

However, the study provides more evidence that COVID-19 can cause problems that last much longer than an acute infection. Even if symptoms like cough, fever, and fatigue go away within a few days, the virus can leave a lasting trail in ways that aren’t immediately apparent.

That is reason for serious concern, especially with the extent of the spread of the variants currently circulating. Nearly 60% of the US population was infected as of February, according to CDC estimates, and that number is almost certainly much higher. “As the cumulative number of people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 increases, the number of survivors of post-COVID conditions is likely to increase as well,” the authors of the new report write.

These conditions can be serious or even debilitating—some with Long COVID had to quit their jobs or drastically change their lifestyle — and it’s not always possible to predict who will be affected. The best way to avoid complications after COVID, experts often say, is to avoid contracting the virus in the first place, and to get vaccinated and boosted if you do.

Other must-read stories from TIME


Write letter for Jamie Ducharme at [email protected].



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