long-term issues

COVID-19 Survivors Have a Higher Risk of Long-Term Health Issues

NBC Universal, Inc.

Adults who survived COVID-19 have twice the risk of developing a blood clot in the lung or a respiratory condition, according to a new CDC study.

But a health expert said the data should be taken with a grain of salt because while there is an increased risk, there isn’t enough information to know the extent.

“To me, it is a gross generalization that allows us to get a glimpse into what the disease is and the future it may hold for people after they have acquired it,” said Hartford Healthcare Infectious Diseases System Director Dr. Ulysses Wu.

For those who survive COVID-19, long-term symptoms are a possibility. Known as long-COVID, the health conditions run the gamut and include neurologic and mental health conditions, kidney failure, musculoskeletal conditions, cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions and blood clots.

“We should not assume COVID is benign. It is not the common cold. Yes, a lot of people do well after they get COVID. A lot of people also die, and a lot of people also have long-COVID symptoms as well,” Wu said.

A new CDC study analyzed the records of hundreds of thousands of adults who did and did not have COVID. It found those infected had twice the risk of developing a blood clot in the lung or a new respiratory condition compared to those who were never infected.

The study also reported that one in five COVID survivors aged 18 to 64 and one in four COVID survivors 65 and older developed a health condition that might be related to their previous illness.

“They’ve acknowledged in the study that there are some limitations in the way they approached the data,” Wu said.

Among the limitations, vaccination status was not considered and patient records came from one data system so findings might not be representative of the entire US adult population.

Wu said while there can’t be finite calculations and conclusions drawn from the study, the broad generalization is that there is an increased risk.

“It does give us this gross overview of something that we can actually pinpoint and look more deeply into and maybe target the populations going forward or even retrospectively. I think this is a good jumping off point for the study,” Wu said.

Wu said there is still much more work that needs to be done and still a lot more to learn about the disease, including how long long-COVID goes on for and if multiple infections increase risk.

“We do know that it can happen after just one exposure, so one is enough. One thing we also do know is that vaccination will likely reduce your risk for long-COVID should you get COVID as well,” Wu said.

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