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Heart, kidneys, pancreas: Scientists are just beginning to understand the health effects of COVID-19

Scientists are only just beginning to understand the variety of health problems caused by the novel corona virus, some of which, according to doctors and experts in infectious diseases, can have long-term effects on patients and health systems.

In addition to the breathing problems that make patients gasp, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems and in some cases causes catastrophic damage.

“We thought this was just a respiratory virus. It turns out it goes to the pancreas. It goes to the heart. It’s about the liver, brain, kidney, and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that at the beginning, ”said Dr. Eric Topol, cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

In addition to breathlessness, patients with COVID-1

9 may experience bleeding disorders that can lead to strokes and extreme inflammation that affect multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications, ranging from headaches, dizziness, and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.

Restoration can be slow, incomplete, and costly, and can have a huge impact on quality of life.

The broad and varied manifestations of COVID-19 are unique, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

With influenza, people with underlying heart disease are also at higher risk of complications, Khan said. What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications that occur outside the lungs.

Khan believes that there will be enormous health expenses and strains for people who have survived COVID-19.

Patients who have been in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks must spend a lot of time in rehab in order to become mobile and powerful again.

“It can take up to seven days for you to be hospitalized every day to regain this type of strength,” Khan said. “The older you are, the more difficult it gets, and you may never return to the same level of functionality.”

Studies are just beginning to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19. | AFP-JIJI
Studies are just beginning to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19. | AFP-JIJI

While the focus was mainly on the minority of patients with serious illnesses, doctors are increasingly paying attention to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to be hospitalized but still suffer months after the first infection.

Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on Thursday in a phone call that studies are beginning to understand the long-term effects of an infection.

“We hear anecdotal reports of people with persistent fatigue and difficulty breathing,” said Butler. “It’s hard to say how long that will take.”

While the coronavirus symptoms usually subside in two or three weeks, an estimated 1 in 10 patients experience prolonged symptoms, wrote Dr. Helen Salisbury of Oxford University on Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

Salisbury said that many of her patients have normal chest X-rays and no signs of inflammation, but they are still not normal.

“If you previously ran 5 km three times a week and now feel breathless after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough continuously and are too exhausted to return to work, the fear that you could never regain your former health is very real . ” She wrote.

Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief neuro-infectious disease doctor at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed the current scientific literature and found that approximately half of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological complications such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, odor and taste disorders. Seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain.

Koralnik, the results of which have been published in the Annals of Neurology, has opened an outpatient clinic for COVID-19 patients to examine whether these neurological problems are temporary or permanent.

Khan sees parallels with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Much of the early focus was on deaths.

“In recent years, we have been very focused on the cardiovascular complications of HIV survival,” said Khan.

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