More than one in five adults in the US who have recovered from COVID-19 may end up developing a long-term condition linked to the viral infection, according to a study published this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The post-COVID conditions span heart, lung, kidney, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and mental health conditions. Overall, COVID survivors had nearly twice the risk of developing respiratory and lung conditions, including pulmonary embolisms, compared with uninfected controls. The most common post-COVID conditions were respiratory conditions and musculoskeletal pain.

Among COVID survivors, people ages 18 to 64 were more likely than older survivors to develop cardiac dysrhythmia and musculoskeletal pain. The risks for survivors 65 and up were greater for kidney failure, blood clots, cerebrovascular disease, muscle disorders, neurological conditions, and mental health conditions.

In the older age group, “post-COVID conditions affecting the nervous system are of particular concern because these conditions can lead to early entry into supportive services or investment of additional resources into care,” the authors wrote. And for the 18-to-64 age group, post-COVID conditions could particularly “affect a patient’s ability to contribute to the workforce and might have economic consequences for survivors and their dependents.”

With more than 83 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the US—and the actual number of infections likely significantly higher—the findings mean that millions could develop long-term symptoms, requiring additional care and resources. ” Therefore, implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies, as well as routine assessment for post-COVID conditions among persons who survive COVID-19, is critical to reducing the incidence and impact of post-COVID conditions, particularly among adults aged ≥65 years,” the authors conclude.Advertisement

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