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Records Show COVID Patients' New Health Issues

US medical systems should adapt, experts say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2021 5:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – New, varied medical issues are plaguing hundreds of thousands of people who contracted COVID-19, even those who didn't become ill from the coronavirus, a study has found. The study, the most comprehensive of its kind, examined the insurance records of almost 2 million US patients who caught the virus in 2020, the New York Times reports. The findings mean the nation's health care system, as well as COVID patients, will have to adapt to the disease's lasting effects, experts cautioned. The study was conducted by FAIR Health, a nonprofit. The report said:

  • The conditions people most often sought treatment for are pain, often in nerves and muscles; breathing problems; high cholesterol; and high blood pressure.
  • 5% of patients, more than a fifth of those who reported post-COVID problems, had new pain.
  • Breathing problems accounted for 3.5% of the reports.
  • Malaise and fatigue, which can include the brain fog that patients with long COVID have reported, affected almost 3% of the patients.

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  • Those in their 40s and 50s, especially, reported high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • More than half of the 2 million people who'd had COVID-19 had no symptoms, while 40% had symptoms but didn't need to be hospitalized.
"One thing that was surprising to us was the large percentage of asymptomatic patients that are in that category of long COVID," said an expert who was involved in the study, per the Times. An expert not involved, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, said the study shows "that long COVID can affect nearly every organ system." He added that "some of these manifestations are chronic conditions that will last a lifetime" and said, now that more is known, changes need to be made. "People with long COVID need multidisciplinary care," Al-Aly said, "and our health systems should adapt to this reality and develop capacity to deal with these patients." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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