What researchers found reviewing 250,000 long COVID-19 cases

More than half of COVID-19 survivors experience at least one symptom six months or more after initially recovering from the illness, a systematic review involving 250,351 COVID-19 survivors found. 

The findings were published Oct. 13 in JAMA Network Open and are based on a systematic review of 57 studies. Of the 250,351 people included in the studies, 56 percent were men and 79 percent were hospitalized during their initial COVID-19 infection. 

The median proportion of people experiencing at least one symptom one month after their initial infection was 54 percent, based on 13 of the studies. At two to five months after infection, 55 percent of people experienced at least one symptom (38 studies) and about 54 percent still had at least one symptom six months or more after their initial recovery (nine studies).

Four studies found 62.2 percent of COVID-19 survivors had abnormalities on chest imaging, the most prevalent pulmonary symptom. 

Meanwhile the most common neurologic symptom was difficulty concentrating, experienced by nearly 24 percent of people across four studies. The findings also identified generalized anxiety disorder (29.6 percent) as the most commonly reported mental health symptom in seven studies. 

General functional impairments (44 percent across nine studies) were the most common functional mobility symptoms, and fatigue or muscle weakness (37.5 percent across 30 studies) was the most common general and constitutional symptom. 

"These findings suggest that [post acute sequelae of COVID-19] is a multisystem disease, with high prevalence in both short-term and long-term periods. These long-term PASC effects occurred on a scale sufficient to overwhelm existing health care capacity, particularly in resource-constrained settings," researchers said.

"Moving forward, clinicians may consider having a low threshold for PASC and must work toward a holistic clinical framework to deal with direct and indirect effects of SARS-CoV-2 sequelae."

To view the full findings, click here.


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