Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the long haul: Study finds many patients are experiencing new medical problems

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

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“Hundreds of thousands of Americans have sought medical care for post-Covid health problems that they had not been diagnosed with before becoming infected with the coronavirus, according to the largest study to date of long-term symptoms in Covid-19 patients,” Pam Belluck writes over at The New York Times in an article about a study that catches up to some of the patient-led research and experience we have been writing about here. “The study, tracking the health insurance records of nearly two million people in the United States who contracted the coronavirus last year, found that one month or more after their infection, almost one-quarter — 23 percent — of them sought medical treatment for new conditions. Those affected were all ages, including children. Their most common new health problems were pain, including in nerves and muscles; breathing difficulties; high cholesterol; malaise and fatigue; and high blood pressure. Other issues included intestinal symptoms; migraines; skin problems; heart abnormalities; sleep disorders; and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Post-Covid health problems were common even among people who had not gotten sick from the virus at all, the study found. While nearly half of patients who were hospitalized for Covid-19 experienced subsequent medical issues, so did 27 percent of people who had mild or moderate symptoms and 19 percent of people who said they were asymptomatic. ‘One thing that was surprising to us was the large percentage of asymptomatic patients that are in that category of long Covid,’ said Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health, a nonprofit organization that conducted the study based on what it says is the nation’s largest database of private health insurance claims. More than half of the 1,959,982 patients whose records were evaluated reported no symptoms from their Covid infection. Forty percent had symptoms but didn’t require hospitalization, including 1 percent whose only symptom was loss of taste or smell; only 5 percent were hospitalized.” Pam Belluck, “Study Finds Many Post-Covid Patients Are Experiencing New Medical Problems,” The New York Times.