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Mayo Clinic study details 'severe negative impacts' of long COVID

Most participants were under 65 and had no preexisting conditions.

A newly published Mayo Clinic study into the effects of long COVID found many sufferers dealing with "severe negative impacts" long after initial infection.

The study, released Wednesday morning, looked at the first 100 patients enrolled in a program at the clinic for prolonged COVID symptoms, often referred to as “long COVID.” The patients were studied between June 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Many participants were under the age of 65, 68% were female, and 75% had experienced initial COVID-19 symptoms that were mild enough to avoid being admitted to the hospital. The majority did not have preexisting conditions. 

Yet weeks and months later, many reported continuing symptoms, including fatigue (80% of patients reporting it) and respiratory complaints (59%). More than half noted they still had trouble thinking, a symptom often called "brain fog." Sleep disturbance and mental health problems were also reported, as were neurological issues (such as headache, dizziness, fluctuating heart rate or blood pressure, and more).

"Most patients with whom we worked required physical therapy, occupational therapy or brain rehabilitation to address the perceived cognitive impairment," said Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, M.D., medical director of Mayo's COVID-19 Activity Rehabilitation program and author of the study.

These symptoms "resulted in significant negative effects" as the person tried to resume a normal life, Mayo Clinic wrote.

More than one-third of patients said they had difficulty performing daily tasks. Two in every three participants still had not been able to return to unrestricted work duties at the time of the analysis. 

"As the pandemic continues, we expect to see more patients who experience symptoms long after infection, and health care providers need to prepare for this, know what to look for, and know how to best provide for their patients' needs," Dr. Vanichkachorn said.

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