Studies identify long-term COVID-19 complications, problematic underlying conditions

Studies identify long-term COVID-19 complications

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two studies are helping doctors identify which patients are most likely to suffer serious complications from a coronavirus infection, and how COVID-19 changes the body after a person recovers.

In New Orleans, researchers found that people with Metabolic Syndrome are three times more likely to die after catching the coronavirus. Metabolic Syndrome is some combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar (often in diabetic or pre-diabetic people), abnormal cholesterol levels, abnormal triglyceride levels, or obesity.

“Multiples of these conditions really stack up your chances of doing poorly,” Dr. Alex Billioux, the state’s top virus expert, said in an interview with WAFB. “If you are on multiple medications, you can assume that you may have multiple conditions. This is a good opportunity to ask your primary care doctor, ’Do I have some of the conditions that put me at-risk for COVID?’”

Metabolic Syndrome is especially common in African-Americans, and researchers say the issue may help to explain why the virus has harmed Black people more than others.

“People who have multiple of these conditions need to take extra precautions, wear masks, stay 6 feet apart from others, and really keep safe from COVID,” Billioux said.

State health experts say it’s also important for people who have recovered from COVID-19 illness to schedule a doctor’s visit. A German study found 60 out of 100 patients had heart muscle inflammation weeks after they got better, perhaps indicating how the virus changes the body once it is defeated.

More than 130,000 Louisianans are presumed recovered.

“When an organ becomes inflamed, you don’t know if that’s going to be temporary or if that’s going to be long-term,” Public Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said in an interview with WAFB. “What you may see weeks later is impacts on the kidney, heart, or lungs that were not there before.”

Guidry said people dealing with internal inflammation will likely demonstrate some symptoms or feel uncomfortable. A doctor who knows his or her patient has recovered from the virus may schedule an MRI to check that person’s organs.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting a wellness check post-COVID to make sure everything is working,” Guidry said. “You’ll know something is not right.”

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