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The report “shows the point that Covid can affect almost any organ system for a long time,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, director of research and development for the VA St. Louis Health Care System, who was not involved in the new study.
“Some of these manifestations are chronic diseases that last a lifetime and will scar some individuals and families forever,” added Dr. Al-Aly, the author of a large study of persistent symptoms in Covid patients published in April in the Veterans Affairs Department, added.
In the new study, the most common problem patients sought medical attention for was pain – including inflammation of the nerves and pain related to nerves and muscles – which was reported by more than 5 percent of patients, or nearly 100,000 people, more than a fifth of those who have reported post-Covid issues. Difficulty breathing, including shortness of breath, was experienced by 3.5 percent of post-Covid patients.
Almost 3 percent of patients sought treatment for symptoms marked with diagnostic codes of malaise and fatigue, a broad category that could include problems such as brain fog and fatigue that worsen after physical or mental activity – effects beyond that of many people with long Covid were reported.
Other new problems for patients, especially adults in their 40s and 50s, have been high cholesterol, which was diagnosed in 3 percent of all post-Covid patients, and high blood pressure, which was diagnosed in 2.4 percent, the report said . Dr. Al-Aly said that such health conditions, which are not generally viewed as the aftereffects of the virus, “make it increasingly clear that post-Covid or long-term Covid have a metabolic signature characterized by disorders in the metabolic machinery”.
Relatively few deaths – 594 – occurred 30 days or more after Covid, and most were among people hospitalized for their coronavirus infection, the report said.
The study, like many with electronic records, only looked at some aspects of the post-Covid landscape. It didn’t say when patients’ symptoms appeared or how long the problems lasted, and it didn’t accurately assess when patients sought help from doctors after an infection, only that it lasted 30 days or more.