For people over 50, even ‘mild’ COVID 19 can cause dangerous health problems

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In a new study, researchers found adults over age 50 who experience mild or moderate COVID-19 are at greater risk of worsening mobility and physical function.

The findings highlight the burden of COVID-19 among middle-aged and older adults who are not hospitalized.

They suggest that many patients who experience even mild COVID-19 have persistent and troublesome symptoms.

In the study, the researchers surveyed more than 24,000 people over the age of 50 from across Canada during the initial phase of the lockdown in 2020 to determine the effect of a COVID diagnosis on their mobility.

The team looked at mobility issues including difficulty getting up from sitting in a chair, ability to walk up and down stairs without assistance and walking two to three neighborhood blocks, as well as changes in participants’ ability to move around the home, engage in housework and physical activity.

They found that even those with mild and moderate illness due to COVID-19 experienced adverse changes in mobility and physical function compared to individuals without COVID-19.

Participants with COVID-19 had nearly double the odds of worsening mobility and physical function compared to those without COVID-19, although most had mild or moderate symptoms.

Of the 2,748 individuals with confirmed, probable or suspected COVID-19, 94 percent were not hospitalized.

Individuals with confirmed or probable COVID-19 had double the odds of worsening ability to engage in household activities and participate in physical activity than those without COVID-19. Similar results were found for those with suspected COVID-19.

The results showed there was a higher risk for mobility problems in people who were older, had lower income, those with three or more chronic conditions, low physical activity and poorer nutrition.

These findings are worth noting because they indicate that the negative effects of COVID-19 are much broader and impact a wider range of older adults than those who are hospitalized for COVID-19.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about the most effective face-mask practices to reduce spread of COVID-19, and new antibody treatment for COVID-19.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about Moderna COVID vaccine that elicits the strongest immune responses, and results showing that omicron may not be the final variant, but it may be the final variant of concern.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Susan Kirkland.

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