Nearly 1 in 3 older people gets new health problems after COVID-19 infection

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Scientists from Optum Labs and elsewhere found that almost a third (32 of every 100) of older adults infected with COVID-19 in 2020 developed at least one new condition that required medical attention.

Conditions involved a range of major organs and systems, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver as well as mental health problems.

The research is published in The BMJ and was conducted by Ken Cohen et al.

Studies examining the frequency and severity of new conditions (sequelae) after COVID-19 infection has started to emerge.

But few have described the excess risk of new conditions triggered by COVID-19 infection in older adults (aged at least 65).

In the study, the team used health insurance plan records to identify 133,366 people aged 65 or older in 2020 who were diagnosed with COVID-19 before 1 April 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 starting 21 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis (the post-acute period) and calculated the excess risk for conditions triggered by COVID-19 over several months.

They found that among people diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, 32% sought medical attention in the post-acute period for one or more new or persistent conditions, which was 11% higher than the 2020 comparison group.

Compared with the 2020 comparison 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.

However, compared with the group with viral lower respiratory tract illness, only respiratory failure, dementia, and fatigue showed increased risk differences.

Individuals admitted to the 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 the black race, and for those aged 75 and older.

The team warns that with more than 357 million people infected with coronavirus worldwide, the number of survivors with sequelae after the acute infection will continue to grow.

These findings further highlight the wide range of important sequelae after acute infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about the key to curing COVID-19, and people with these mental problems less likely to get COVID-19.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about new antibody treatment for COVID-19, and results showing some inflammation drugs could help prevent COVID-19 deaths.

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