A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has found that 30% of people treated with COVID-19 infection developed Long COVID, also called Post AcuteSequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), according to Science Daily.
People who have a history of hospitalization, diabetes, and obesity were most likely to develop PASC. However, people covered by Medicaid, as opposed to commercial health insurance, or who had undergone an organ transplant were less likely to develop Long COVID.
The researchers analyzed 300 people with Long COVID and found that the most persistent symptoms were fatigue (31%) and shortness of breath (15%) in those who were hospitalized. Another most common symptom was anosmia (loss of sense of smell), which was in 16% of the patients.
It is still unclear how to define the syndrome. Researchers are studying the incidence and risk factors of Long COVID.
Overall, the UCLA researchers studied more than 1,030 people between April 2020 and February 2021. Of those, 309 developed Long COVID, with a person being considered to have the syndrome if they experienced persistent symptoms 60 or 90 days after infection or hospitalization.
The study’s author Dr. Sun Yoo said, “This study illustrates the need to follow diverse patient populations longitudinally to understand the Long COVID disease trajectory and evaluate how individual factors such as pre-existing co-morbidities, sociodemographic factors, vaccination status, and virus variant type affect type and persistence of Long COVID symptoms.”
“Studying outcomes in a single health system can minimize variation in quality of medical care,” she added.
“Our study also raises questions such as: Why were patients with commercial insurance twice as likely to develop Long COVID than patients insured through Medicaid? Because persistent symptoms can be subjective in nature, we need better tools to accurately diagnose Long COVID and to differentiate it from exacerbations of other emerging or chronic conditions,” Dr. Yoo explained.
“Finally, we need to ensure equitable access to outpatient Long COVID care.”