COVID-19 ages organs, compilation of studies finds

Recent research shows COVID-19 may age organs, according to a series of studies compiled by Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at Washington University in St. Louis and the chief of research and education service at Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System. 

The studies on long COVID-19 in the brain, heart and kidneys all pointed to multiple human organs aging faster after COVID-19. The majority of these effects was found in people who were hospitalized but also appeared in individuals with mild COVID-19 symptoms. 

"You can start thinking about getting COVID as almost an accelerant to aging. The viral infection accelerates the aging process in people," Dr. Al-Aly told ABC affiliate KGO-TV. 

Michael Peluso, MD, infectious disease specialist at University of California San Francisco, was part of one of the first teams in the country to begin long COVID-19 research in April 2020. He said his team thinks some of the reason organs may be experiencing aging or injury after COVID-19 include the persistence of the virus, which leads to the longer-term effects. 

Though more data is needed, Dr. Al-Aly said he believes and hopes the aging will eventually stop. 

"There are some early indications that this really may be the case that the risk or the kidney function decline really flattens out with time," Dr. Al-Aly said. 

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