Jun 15, 2021 - Health

Study: Nearly a quarter of COVID-19 patients developed new or long-term conditions

Healthcare workers incubate a patient at the Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.

Healthcare workers incubate a patient at a Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, California, U.S., on Jan. 26, 2021. Photo: Nic Coury/Bloomberg via Getty Images

About 23% of COVID-19 patients have developed at least one "persistent or new" medical condition more than four weeks after their initial diagnosis, according to a new study from FAIR Health.

Why it matters: New post-COVID symptoms were discovered across different age groups. The five most common were pain, difficulty breathing, high cholesterol, malaise and fatigue, and high blood pressure, reports the New York Times.

The big picture: The study looked at insurance data from nearly 2 million COVID-19 patients from February 2020 to February 2021, making it the largest study to date of long-term symptoms, the Times notes.

  • Other issues patients experienced included migraines, sleep disorders, heart abnormalities, skin issues, kidney failure, blood clots, brain fog, and anxiety and depression.

While experiencing new symptoms was more common among patients who had had severe cases of the virus, many had had only mild symptoms of COVID-19 while others were asymptomatic.

  • "Of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19, the percentage that had a post-COVID condition was 50 percent; of patients who were symptomatic but not hospitalized, 27.5 percent; and of patients who were asymptomatic, 19 percent," said the study.

What they're saying: “One thing that was surprising to us was the large percentage of asymptomatic patients that are in that category of long Covid,” Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health, told the Times.

  • Some people exhibiting these post-COVID symptoms "may not have even known they had Covid," emphasized Gelburd, to the Times.
Go deeper