Take Caution During COVID-19: Possible long term effects

Scientists, researchers, and healthcare professionals are beginning to examine potential long term health complications that may be associated with COVID-19. Although much more research and time are needed to identify and understand the long term effects of COVID-19, there is growing evidence to suggest that the following systems may have long term effects as a result of a COVID-19 infection:

Respiratory SystemCardiovascular SystemNervous System
Composed of the lungs, nose, pharynx, trachea, and bronchi
Composed of the heart and blood vessels (veins, arteries, and capillaries)
Composed of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves
In addition to the short term COVID-19 respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and increased susceptibility to other lung infections, there are likely to be lasting effects on the lungs.
There have been reports of decreased lung capacity over time for some COVID-19 patients.
Potential permanent scarring of the lungs has also been seen among those hospitalized for the virus. 
It is well known that inflammation and infections within the body can lead to cardiovascular complications, which may help to explain why COVID-19 patients are experiencing heart damage and cardiac issues.
Blood clotting is being commonly reported for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. These clots can travel to other parts of the body including the lungs, or kidneys and can lead to health outcomes like stroke and embolisms.
Heart damage is reportedly being found among COVID-19 cases including in the form of heart inflammation, failure, and scarring. A number of cases are showing damage that mimics injury caused by a heart attack. 
These issues may also increase one’s risk for cardiovascular problems in the future (e.g., heart attacks).
Evidence about the neurological impacts of COVID-19 is growing. Studies are demonstrating that COVID-19 may be associated with neurological issues such as: 
Memory problems
Confusion or delirium
Lack of concentration
It is definitively associated with Loss of taste and smell, which for some lasts several months.
A study of 57 COVID-19 patients revealed that over half of the study population had abnormal CT (x-ray) scans, and over 75% had decreased lung capacity.One study examined MRI’s for 100 recovered COVID-19 patients and found that 78 of them had experienced abnormal changes to their heart.A recent study conducted on 19 patients who had passed away due to COVID-19 found that brain abnormalities (identified via MRI) occurred in 4 members of the cohort. 

There may be differences in the long term effects based on the severity of the COVID-19 case, although this variability needs to be studied further. Studies are also focusing on long term effects for the kidney and liver, and other organ systems.

University of Arizona faculty have launched a study to follow COVID-19 patients to better understand the long-term effects of the virus. For more information about the CoVHORT study, visit this link. 

As medical professionals study future complications of COVID-19, it is important to watch for and monitor any unusual health issues you may be experiencing and to seek medical attention if these symptoms develop or progress.

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