Research has shone a light on “long COVID” symptoms, identifying stroke, chest pain, and blood clot-related complications as among the most serious adverse effects patients experience after recovery.
Review authors of the study, published in Nature Medicine, highlighted the plight of so-called ‘COVID long-haulers’. “We felt that a review of all these possible issues would be important not only for healthcare providers but also for patients,” said Ani Nalbandian, MD, a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the study’s first author. “It’s important for patients to know that what they’re experiencing may be a consequence of COVID-19 infection and that they are not alone in experiencing lingering effects of COVID-19 infection.”
A holistic approach spanning medical disciplines is crucial, the study found. “If you go to a cardiologist, the cardiologist may just focus on the heart,” Nalbandian says. “But we need to think of the whole person since COVID is potentially affecting many organs, especially in those who have been hospitalised.”
Authors highlighted the universalism of “long-COVID.” Elaine Y. Wan, MD, the study’s senior author and the Esther Aboodi assistant professor of medicine in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Columbia University, stressed that “any of these issues can happen to any patient who had COVID-19. For example, we’ve seen young patients without prior medical illness who developed autonomic dysfunction and fast heart rates after COVID-19. It’s not just the most vulnerable who have issues after COVID.”
Health Issues India reported on long-COVID symptoms earlier this year, citing a Lancet analysis which found 76 percent of patients reported at least one ongoing symptom. The most common symptoms included fatigue or muscle weakness, reported by 63 percent; sleeping difficulties, reported by 26 percent; and anxiety or depression, reported by 23 percent.
Recovery from COVID-19, in a societal and personal sense, necessitates addressing long COVID symptoms and those affected by them. “All of us recognised that there needs to be interdisciplinary care to treat patients longitudinally,” said Wan. Research into the ongoing effects is vital. This must be implemented in India, especially as cases surge again.
“Get in touch with your doctors even if you’re not sure if your symptoms are lingering from your COVID infection,” exhorts Nalbandian. “The situation is still fluid and we’re learning more every month.”