Many serious Covid-19 survivors die within a year, study shows

A physician cares for a patient in the covid-19 intensive care unit of Leipzig University Hospital on November 18, 2021 in Leipzig, Germany.

A doctor cares for a patient for approxovid-19 intensive care unit at Leipzig University Hospital on 18 November 2021 in Leipzig, Germany.
Photo: Jens Schlueter (Getty Images)

New research this week shows that people are hospitalized with serious illnesses covid-19 ofte pay a high price afterwards. The study concluded that these survivors were more than twice as likely to die in the ensuing 12 months compared to individuals who had tested negative for the virus. This relatively increased risk of death was even higher for people under 65 years of age.

While left much research to be done, investigations so far have made it clear that many Covid-19 survivors may experience persistent symptoms even after the infection itself has disappeared. And those who are hospitalized are all the more vulnerable to these after-effects. Severe covid often damages the lungs and other organs severely, while life-saving interventions such as steroids, ventilators and life-support devices such as ECMO can take a also strain on the body.

Researchers from the University of Florida already had that published a study in July that showed that hospitalized survivors were significantly more likely to be readmitted within six months;compared to those with mild to moderate covid-19. This new study of theirs, based on a study of anonymous electronic health records, looked instead at the long-term mortality risk for patients up to a year later.

Nearly 14,000 patients in the same healthcare system were studied. These included 178 diagnosed with severe COVID-19 and 246 diagnosed with mild to moderate covid-19, as well as many others who tested negative for the virus but who may have been ill for other reasons and received medical attention in some way. Compared with covid-negative patients, and even after taking into account other factors such as age and sex, those with severe covid were 2.5 times more likely to die in the next 12 months after their illness. Overall, just over 52% of severe covid patients died within a year. However, there was no significantly increased risk of mortality for mild to moderate cases.

“This study provides evidence that the increased risk of death from covid-19 is not limited to the first episode of covid-19, but a severe episode of covid-19 carries a significantly increased risk of death in the following 12 months, “the authors wrote in their study, published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

About 20% of deaths among these patients after infection were attributed to problems with either the respiratory or cardiovascular systems, the authors noted, the areas of the body that tend to be directly affected by coronavirus infection. However, it is well known that the symptoms of severe covid are often the result of an overzealous immune response, which can cause chaos throughout the body. And it is this potential for widespread injury that is likely to be to blame for the majority of the extra deaths seen in these survivors.

“As these deaths were not a direct cause of covid-19 death among those patients who have recovered from the first episode of covid-19, these data suggest that the biological insult from covid-19 and physiological stress from covid-19 is significant “, they wrote.

Older people are more likely to develop serious illness and die of covid-19. However, among the patients in this study, the associated risk of dying was actually relatively greater for survivors of severe covid under 65 than for patients over 65. Compared with similarly elderly but uninfected people, they were more than three times more likely to die in the months following their admission.

The results are yet another reminder of the harms of the pandemic run deeper than any official death toll can illustrate. As many as 7.5 million Americans have been hospitalized by covid-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated. GGiven the risks that inpatient survivors will face even after their first trial, the authors say it is “clear that prevention of significant covid-19 infection is the most effective way to reduce the risk of death after covid-19. “

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