New York, Mar 23 (PTI) Some long-haul COVID-19 patients experience stroke, chest pain, and blood clot-related complications weeks after recovery, according to a review of studies by an interdisciplinary team of more than 30 experts.
The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, summarised what experts from a wide range of fields, including neurology, cardiology, and nephrology have seen in their own long-haul COVID-19 patients, and also in existing literature.
According to the review authors, including those from Columbia University in the US, chest pain has been reported in up to 20 per cent of COVID-19 survivors two months after recovery from the infection.
They said COVID-19 can also unveil previously undetected cases of diabetes, with a fraction of patients also experiencing strokes, blood clots in the lungs, and other complications.
While most people who experience long-term symptoms may have had health issues before contracting the virus, the researchers said these issues can happen to any patient who had COVID-19.
'For example, we've seen young patients without prior medical illness who developed autonomic dysfunction and fast heart rates after COVID-19. It's not just the most vulnerable who have issues after COVID,' said Elaine Y. Wan from Columbia University.
According to Wan, patients have reported some of these symptoms even weeks and months after testing positive for the infection, with sudden onset of heart racing, palpitations, and chronic fatigue.
'Arrhythmias can lead to stroke, heart failure, and long-lasting damage to the heart, and that's something that patients may not be aware of,' the electrophysiology expert said.
'There really is a post-COVID syndrome and it doesn't always correlate with the severity of the acute COVID infection itself,' added Ani Nalbandian, another co-author of the study from Columbia University.
The review noted that some patients also complain weeks later of new chest discomfort or difficulty with decision making, memory, and concentration.
'When we think of COVID-19, we think of mostly a respiratory illness. But even after they've recovered from their respiratory illness, they may still have other clinical symptoms due to issues with other organ systems,' Wan said.
Based on the analysis, the scientists believe care for patients with COVID-19 should not conclude at the time of hospital discharge.
'All of us recognized that there needs to be interdisciplinary care to treat patients longitudinally,' Wan added.
The researchers believe the need of the hour is for health care systems around the world to establish dedicated COVID-19 clinics.
'Clinics could prioritize follow-up care for those at high risk for post-acute COVID-19 and those with the highest burden of persistent symptoms,' Nalbandian said.
'Get in touch with your doctors even if you're not sure if your symptoms are lingering from your COVID infection. The situation is still fluid and we're learning more every month,' she added. PTI VIS VIS VIS