‘Long COVID:’ New review adds fresh detail


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Scientists are slowly gathering information about long COVID. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • There have been numerous reports of people who survived COVID-19 developing various long-term health issues.
  • Symptoms are wide-ranging, can affect all people, and can develop months after the infection.
  • Individuals with long COVID require interdisciplinary care and support.

In a new literature review, researchers provide a thorough overview of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, otherwise known as long COVID.

The review, which appears in the journal Nature Medicine, highlights the importance of patient advocacy groups and the need for interdisciplinary care and support over a more extended period.

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on global health, with nearly 3 million deaths recorded worldwide.

While the disease typically affects a person’s respiratory health, scientists now generally recognize it as a multi-organ disease, with symptoms ranging from nonexistent to life threatening. However, as the pandemic has progressed, experts are becoming more aware of the longer-term effects of COVID-19.

Dubbed “long COVID,” survey reports have suggested that people are continuing to experience symptoms long after they first contracted acute COVID-19.

A team of over 30 experts from various fields has now analyzed the current literature on long COVID, offering a thorough overview of the disease and suggesting ways to support people who develop it.

According to the first author of the study Dr. Ani Nalbandian, a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, “over the course of the summer, we started getting a sense of what issues these people were having. We felt that a review of all these possible issues would be important not only for healthcare providers but also for patients.”

“It’s important for patients to know that what they’re experiencing may be a consequence of [contracting SARS-CoV-2] and that they are not alone in experiencing lingering effects of COVID-19.”

The researchers note that various cardiovascular issues have associations with long COVID, including chest pain, blood clots, stroke, pulmonary embolisms, and heart arrhythmias.

Dr. Elaine Y. Wan, the Esther Aboodi Assistant Professor of Medicine in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology at Columbia University and the review’s senior author, said, “arrhythmias can lead to stroke, heart failure, and long-lasting damage to the heart, and that’s something that patients may not be aware of.”

The review also highlighted the importance of ongoing respiratory symptoms, such as breathlessness, in around 1 in 5 people with COVID-19. Breathlessness could have a respiratory or cardiac origin. At least 1 in 6 patients experienced a persistent cough.

The review also highlighted the…

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