Boston: Nearly a third of older adults infected with COVID-19 in 2020 developed at least one new condition that required medical attention in the months after initial infection, according to an observational study published in The BMJ. Researchers from Optum Labs and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the US noted that conditions involved a range of major organs and systems, including the heart, kidneys, lungs and liver as well as mental health complications.
They used health insurance plan records in the US to identify 133,366 individuals aged 65 or older in 2020 who were diagnosed with COVID-19 before April 1, 2020.
These individuals were matched to three non-COVID comparison groups from 2020, 2019, and a group diagnosed with viral lower respiratory tract illness.
The researchers then recorded any persistent or new conditions or sequelae starting 21 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
They calculated the excess risk for conditions triggered by the disease over several months based on age, race, sex, and whether patients were admitted to hospital for COVID-19.
The results show that among individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, 32 per cent sought medical attention in the post-acute period for one or more new or persistent conditions, which was 11 per cent higher than the 2020 comparison group.
Compared with the same group, COVID-19 patients were at increased risk of developing a range of conditions including respiratory failure, fatigue, high blood pressure, and mental health diagnoses.
Understanding the magnitude of risk for the most important clinical sequelae might enhance their diagnosis and the management of individuals with sequelae after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our results can help providers and other key stakeholders anticipate the scale of future health complications and improve planning for the use of healthcare resources, the authors of the study said.
Similar results were found for the 2019 comparison group, the researchers said.
However, compared with the group with viral lower respiratory tract illness, only respiratory failure, dementia, and fatigue showed increased risk differences with COVID-19.
Individuals admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had a markedly increased risk for most but not all conditions.
The risk of several conditions was also increased for men, for those of black race, and for those aged 75 and older, the researchers said.
This is an observational study so can’t establish cause, and the researchers acknowledge some limitations, including the fact that some diagnoses might not truly represent a new condition triggered by COVID-19 infection.
However, they warn that with millions infected with coronavirus worldwide, “the number of survivors with sequelae after the acute infection will continue to grow.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.