By Anagha Ramakrishnan, for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
As we head into the third year of the pandemic, the long-term effects of COVID-19 on health have become clearer.
Previous research has found how COVID-19 can affect all organs in the body in critically ill patients. A recent study published by the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal, aimed to find out what happens after recovering from the virus and how it affects the health of individuals over 65.
The study found that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 had sought medical care for new or persistent conditions 21 days after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Conditions developed after COVID-19, also known as sequelae, ranged from respiratory failure, hypertension, impaired memory and other neurological disorders, such as dementia, and mental health diagnoses, according to the study.
“With over 400 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, even a modest risk of long-term sequelae will have a major impact on patients and our healthcare systems,” the corresponding author of the study and executive director of translational research at Optum Labs, Dr. Ken Cohen told Medical News Today.
“Understanding the magnitude of this impact and the specific organ systems that can be affected by the post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 is critically important information.”
COVID-19 weakens the immune system, opening the door for other conditions to take place. The virus puts additional stress on the body and can cause other illnesses and other conditions to accelerate.
In addition, researchers have found patients affected by sequelae known as long COVID, in which the patient takes more than 3 weeks to fully recover from the virus. New symptoms or a continuation of COVID symptoms happen during this time, prolonging the virus.
According to Yale Medicine, there are a few theories about what causes long COVID, including residual organ damage from the body’s immune response to the virus, remnants of COVID that is found in organs that cause an immune response and an exaggerated immune response where the immune system remains in an “overexcited state” after the virus.