May 27, 2022 — About 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 and 1 in 5 adults under the age of 65 experienced “long COVID” or “post-COVID” symptoms after recovering from a coronavirus infection, according to a new study from the CDC to have.
In addition, survivors of COVID-19 had twice the risk of developing respiratory disease and pulmonary embolism.
“As more individuals are exposed to and infected with SARS-CoV-2, reports of patients experiencing persistent symptoms or organ dysfunction after acute COVID-19 and developing post-COVID conditions have increased,” the study authors write.
The research team analyzed electronic medical records from a large national database that included approximately 353,000 COVID-19 patients and 1.6 million non-COVID-19 patients between March 2020 and November 2021, before the Omicron variant surge occurred. They looked at 26 medical conditions, including problems with the heart, lungs, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, as well as pain, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and mental health problems.
Researchers found that 38% of COVID-19 survivors “had at least one incident” in the months following their infection. In comparison, about 16% of people who were not infected were diagnosed with these conditions.
The most common symptoms after a coronavirus infection were “difficulty breathing and musculoskeletal pain”. Other main symptoms included kidney failure, heart problems, blood clots and vascular problems.
In people aged 65 and older, the researchers found an “increased risk of neurological disorders” and other mental health problems, such as mood disorders and substance abuse.
Previous studies have found different estimates for the proportion of COVID-19 survivors who face long-term COVID symptoms, ranging from 20% to 50%, according to CBS News. The differences are likely due to the different ways researchers have defined “long-COVID” or “post-COVID” in their studies, as well as the different types of symptoms and the different time intervals studied during the pandemic.
The CDC is supporting several ongoing studies to better understand the long-term effects of contracting COVID-19, CBS News reported. Earlier this month, the CDC updated its guidance on post-COVID, adding conditions such as anxiety and depression to the list of possible long-term symptoms.
The CDC has said more research is needed to understand how to treat patients with long-term COVID or post-COVID syndrome, CBS News reported. The Biden administration is scheduled to release two Long COVID-related plans in August that could include potential treatments and therapies.
“Implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies, as well as routine assessment of post-COVID conditions in individuals surviving COVID-19, is critical to reducing the incidence and impact of post-COVID conditions, particularly in adults aged ≥ 65 years,” wrote the authors of the CDC study.