Life stressors up long COVID-19 risk, study suggests

Major life stressors such as financial or food insecurity, death of a loved one or new disability are strong predictors of whether hospitalized COVID-19 patients will develop long COVID-19, according to findings published Nov. 5 in Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Researchers from New York City-based NYU Langone Health used telephone survey tools to follow up with COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized within the system between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020. Of the 790 patients who survived hospitalization in that time, 451 completed a 6-month and/or 12-month follow-up. Of those, 17 percent died between discharge and the one-year follow-up period, and 51 percent reported major life stressors at 12 months. 

Multivariable analyses found patients with significant life stressors were twice as likely to experience depression, brain fog, fatigue, sleep issues and other long COVID-19 symptoms. 

"Our study is unique in that it explores the impact of life stressors — along with demographic trends and neurologic events — as predictors of long-term cognitive and functional disabilities that affected quality of life in a large population," said Jennifer Frontera, MD, lead study author and professor of neurology at NYU Langone. "Therapies that lessen the trauma of most stress-inducing life events need to be a central part of treatment for long COVID, with more research needed to validate the best approaches." 


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