Apr 12, 2022 - COVID

New clinic opens in Des Moines to treat long COVID

An illustration of COVID-19

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

MercyOne Iowa Heart Center has opened a Des Moines clinic to treat the long-term effects of COVID-19 as concerns grow that a wave of early onset chronic illnesses looms for those who've contracted the virus.

Why it matters: Scientists don't yet fully understand COVID's impact on quality of life for the hundreds of millions of people who've been infected around the world.

  • Monitoring and holistic health management may allow for early detection and prevent long-term systemic damage, according to a study published in last month's Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

State of play: Long COVID-19 generally describes health problems that persist for months in those who have been infected by the virus.

  • Growing research suggests that even people who initially suffered from mild COVID symptoms face increased risks of developing ailments like heart and lung disease.
  • The CDC has recommended closely monitoring the organ functionality of people who've had COVID.

By the numbers: Nearly 81 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the U.S., where more than 980,000 deaths are attributed to the virus, according to the New York Times.

The big picture: There are hundreds of post-COVID clinics but no standard for the treatment they provide, Bloomberg Law reports.

  • President Joe Biden last week announced plans to ramp up research on how to prevent, detect and treat long COVID.

How it works: Ambrose Munro, a physician at the new Long COVID Clinic in Des Moines, told Axios that a team of up to five metro medical providers who focus on long COVID care have partnered with the Iowa Heart Center to help treat heart ailments linked with the virus.

  • The center also assesses and helps people find treatment for other symptoms like fatigue and brain fog.
  • The effort aims to better coordinate services and expertise on long-term COVID treatment in the area, Munro said.

What they're saying: Tom Benzoni, a longtime ER physician in Des Moines, told Axios he's seen fewer people seeking treatment in recent months for new infections, and more for long COVID symptoms.

  • Benzoni expects chronic illnesses more commonly seen among older populations to increase among young people in the coming years.
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