Can long-term Covid disease lead to death?  New analysis suggests that it can

Can long-term Covid disease lead to death? New analysis suggests that it can

It is unclear whether the people who died had underlying health problems, whether prolonged Covid-19 was the cause of their death or whether it was a contributing factor.

The new data comes as state and federal health officials work to understand the significance and severity of prolonged Covid-19, which may affect up to 30 percent of people who contract the virus, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Two years into the epidemic, relatively little is known about the long spread of Covid, how it is diagnosed or best practices for treatment.

“The overall risk factors for mortality with prolonged Covid-19 infection are going to be significant and evolving,” said Maddy Horning, a physician and scientist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health who researches long-term Covid-19. The CDC is still collecting and revising data, but the NCHS has so far identified 60 death certificates listing Covid-long or similar terms — for example, “post-Covid” — in 2021 and another 60 during the first five months of 2022 .

A CDC spokesperson said the agency is “working to identify any deaths attributable to … long Covid-19” and plans to publish the numbers “soon.”

There is no long-term Covid-19 test, and the CDC and the medical community have no official definition. But health care workers across the country are diagnosing patients who previously had Covid-19 based on a wide range of symptoms that often include fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog. Researchers and scientists have said that between 10 and 30 per cent of people who survive a Covid-19 infection will have Covid for a long time. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released May 27 reported that one in five adults in the United States may develop the condition.

However, it is difficult to say how many people have long-term Covid disease in the country. It is not easy to diagnose the condition, especially without a universal definition. Long Covid can affect multiple organ systems and what may be a prolonged symptom of Covid to one patient may not be to another patient.

The muddy diagnostic process has made it difficult for researchers to study the long-running COVID-19 disease. Dozens of hospitals and medical clinics are accepting patients with prolonged Covid symptoms for treatment and are trying to use this data to better understand the condition and why it manifests in some who previously contracted the virus but not others. The National Institutes of Health is overseeing the largest national study of the long-running COVID-19 virus.

In October 2021, after approval by the CDC, hospitals and medical facilities in the United States began tracking patients with prolonged Covid symptoms with a specific identification known as the ICD-10 code. This coding system, used in most reported diseases, helped researchers identify the group of people to study.

However, in almost all cases, long Covid sample collections are limited, limiting researchers’ ability to understand how the condition affects different people.

“There is a huge lack of detection for long Covid,” said Sayram Parthasarathy, chair of the lung department at the University of Arizona School of Medicine and one of the pioneers in the long Covid study. “It is related to health literacy… for someone who is aware that they have a medical problem. If someone feels they do not have a medical problem, sometimes they may not seek care.”

Parthasarathy said social and economic factors also play a role, including whether a person has the resources and time to go to the doctor.

There is no specific wording or terminology that hospitals use on death certificates – the CDC has not yet issued guidance. Therefore, there are no official estimates of the long Covid deaths.

Few studies have examined the relationship between prolonged Covid-19 disease and mortality. But a November 2021 study of European cancer patients, published in The Lancet, showed an association between prolonged Covid and disease in the population sample. The study found that about 15 per cent of those who survived Covid-19 had prolonged Covid symptoms and that their survival outcomes were significantly worse. It also found that these individuals were more likely to permanently discontinue systemic anticancer therapy.

“It is certainly and likely that someone who is ill with Covid will have complications after Covid and die from Covid for a long time,” said Jerry Krishnan, a pulmonologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who is leading the foundation’s long-running clinical study. “I didn’t see the data. But I heard that people had complications in the heart, lung or brain after contracting Covid. And eventually they died.”

CDC analysis pulls death certificates that contain words such as “Long Covid” or “post Covid,” which could indicate someone died as a result of the condition. The NCHS conducted a similar review of death certificates when the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. The CDC eventually issued a notice to health care providers to use a specific code for deaths that could be attributed to Covid-19. It allowed federal and local researchers to study how and whether the virus caused more serious illness in some groups than others.

Although there is no death certificate code for the long Covid virus, Parthasarathy said it is possible to rely on what the medical community already knows about the severity of the disease from Covid-19 affecting different populations to get a sense of the prolonged effects of Covid on those same groups of people.

“We know that people of color have been disproportionately affected by Covid disease rather than just mild SARS-CoV-2. infection. And we know that people who are hospitalized with Covid are more likely to have long-term Covid,” he said, adding that he had recently sat on a presentation with the NCHS that suggested people of color had a higher prevalence of long-term Covid when they showed those numbers. …it was like, ‘Of course.’ We were able to connect the dots.”

2022-06-03 09:00:00

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.