"Our findings suggests that long COVID-19 can affect nearly every organ system," assistant professor Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly said. For the past six months, Al-Aly of Washington University and his team have been monitoring some of the first people in the St. Louis area to get COVID-19.
"We've known for a while now that some people with COVID-19 are still reporting fatigue, and shortness of breath, and cough, and other manifestations well beyond the first 30 days," Al-Aly said. "So we started thinking, are some people with COVID-19 going to have long-term manifestations?"
Their findings showed an increase risk of death and quite a number of other serious illnesses. Those who've had severe symptoms and were hospitalized are the most at-risk of having complications in the future.
Al-Aly says even the least severe case has a greater risk of serious illness than someone who hasn't had COVID-19. "It can affect the brain. It can affect the heart. It can affect the lungs, kidney, liver, we see increased mental health disorder," Al-Aly said.
Making sure your primary physician stays vigilant during your check-ups is one way to combat the risk. Another, is making sure you pay attention to how you feel.
"We should be vigilant and be prepared to deal with long COVID-19 patients," Al-Aly said. "This is not going to be a small percentage of the population, it's going to be at lease three million people in the united states who need long-term care.