It is becoming increasingly clear that some patients struggle with COVID-19 health consequences and costs for longer than a few weeks. The virus can have a severe impact on the lungs, as you might expect. Pneumonia associated with the disease can damage air sacs in the lungs and the resulting scar tissue can cause long-term breathing problems. These are things we are already aware of, however, an Axios article highlights some other alarming impacts on the body that researchers have found:
- During autopsies there is evidence of the virus in parts of the brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and in the cells that line blood vessels. They have also found clotting in many organs.
- There are also vascular system issues which could unleash a global surge in vascular diseases from stroke and atherosclerosis to myocarditis and heart attack.
- One study found that 78% of people who had recovered from the coronavirus had heart abnormalities that could be detected on an MRI two months later, including many who hadn’t been hospitalized. Around 60% had signs of myocarditis.
- Many people have myocarditis and are fine; others can have severe complications, including health failure and death.
- Between 40 and 60% of hospitalized patients have neurological and psychiatric symptoms.
- Patients with neurological symptoms aren’t always those who have been seriously ill.
Even if we manage to get the coronavirus under control, whether that’s through a vaccine or behavior modification, we are probably going to be dealing with its effects for a long time. Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, mask up, and stay tuned!