Who is at risk of long COVID? What scientists here know so far – tech2.org

Who is at risk of long COVID? What scientists here know so far


For most people, infection with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – causes mild, short-term symptoms, acute respiratory illness, or possibly no symptoms. But some people have long-lasting symptoms after infection – terming it “long COVID”.

Scientists are still researching long COVIDs. This is not well understood, although our knowledge of it is increasing. Here I keep an eye on what we have learned so far about it – who is at risk, how common is it and what are its effects.

In defining who is in the mechanisms associated with prolonged COVID and risk, we can try whether appropriate therapies can be tried – or steps taken early in the course of the disease may improve it.

Wide vulnerability

Prolonged COVID is characterized by a constellation of symptoms, including – in general – shortness of breath, marked fatigue, headaches, and in general the loss of taste and smell ability.

A relatively large study of 384 individuals ill admitted to hospitalization with COVID-19 showed that 53 percent were breathless one to two months later at a follow-up assessment, with 34 percent coughing and 69 percent reporting fatigue. was.

Indeed, a preliminary analysis of self-reported data presented through the COVID Symptom Study App shows that 13 percent of people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms have had it longer than 28 days, while 4 Percent has symptoms after more than 56 days.

Perhaps unsure, people with more severe illness initially – characterized by more than five symptoms – seem to be at an increased risk of prolonged COVID. Older age and being female are also risk factors for prolonged symptoms, as in high body mass index.

People using the application are at the fitter end of the population, with an interest in health matters. It is therefore surprising that such a high proportion have symptoms one to two months after the initial infection. Generally, these are not people who are highly sensitive to COVID-19.

Another piece of preliminary research (awaiting peer review) suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can also have long-term effects on people’s organs. But the profile of the affected people in this study differs from the app for reporting those symptoms.

In a study that looked at a sample of 200 patients recovered from COVID-19, 32 percent of people had mild heart failure, 33 percent had lungs and 12 percent had kidneys. Multiple organ damage was found in 25 percent of patients.

The average age of the patients in this study was 44 years, so they were a large part of the young, working-age population. Only 18 percent were hospitalized with COVID-19, meaning that organ damage can occur even after a non-serious infection. Having a disease known to lead to more severe COVID-19, such as type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease, there was no condition for organ damage.

Find out what’s going on

There are several reasons why symptoms may appear in people months after a viral illness during an epidemic. But getting to the bottom of what is happening inside people will be easier for some parts of the body than others.

Where symptoms point to a particular organ, the investigation is relatively straightforward. If someone is suffering, the doctor can check the electric current around the heart. Or they may study lung function – tissue elasticity and gas exchange – where shortness of breath is the predominant symptom.

To determine whether kidney function is impaired, the components in a patient’s blood plasma are compared to the products in their urine that are filtering waste products to the kidneys.

Hard fatigue is a symptom rather than a finding. Another recent large-scale study showed that this symptom is common after COVID-19 – occurring in more than half of cases – and appears to be unrelated to the severity of the initial disease.

What’s more, tests have shown that the levels of inflammation have not increased in the people examined, suggesting that their fatigue is caused by continued infection or their immune system not functioning prematurely.

Risk factors for long-lasting symptoms in this study include – with the COVID Symptom App Study – and, interestingly, having a prior diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

While there is an increased risk of serious infection in men, it seems that women are being affected for a long time. COVID may reflect their different or changing hormone status. The ACE2 receptor that uses SARS-CoV-2 to infect the body is present not only on the surface of respiratory cells, but also on the cells of many organs that produce hormones, including the thyroid, adrenal glands, and ovaries. Huh.

Some symptoms of prolonged COVID overlap with the symptoms of menopause, and hormone replacement may be a route using medication to reduce the effects of symptoms. However, clinical trials will be necessary to determine whether this approach is both safe and effective. Applications have been made to start such research.

With too much happening in the last year, we will need to tease apart what affects the stem from the virus, which could be the result of the massive social disruption that has arisen from this epidemic.

However, it is clear that long-term symptoms are common after COVID-19, and research into the causes and treatments for long COVIDs is likely to occur only after prolonged outbreaks.chit chat

Francis Williams, Professor of Genomic Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist of King’s College London.

This article is republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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