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Recently published University of Arizona Health Sciences study uncovers new details about long COVID

Along with symptoms of the post-infection, the study found that those who developed long COVID before the Omicron variant had it more often, more severe
Obese population at higher risk for COVID-19 complications
Posted at 9:14 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 00:14:52-04

TUCSON, AZ — A recently published study from University of Arizona Health Sciences could provide insight into how to treat long COVID going forward.

According to the study, the most common symptoms found were fatigue, brain fog, and dizziness. The symptoms can vary, and so can the length of time the symptoms last. Long COVID could last for months, or even years.

The research team also reportedly found that long COVID was more common and severe in study participants that had COVID before the development of the 2021 Omicron variant.

“This is a very important first glimpse into the clinical complexities of long COVID. We now have an initial roadmap on how to better diagnose it, and we need to validate it in ongoing studies”, said Janko Nikolich, MD, PhD, the principal investigator of the study's research team in Arizona.

The study is part of a nationwide effort coordinated through the National Institutes of Health looking to develop a better understanding of why some people develop long-term symptoms after being infected with COVID-19. Perhaps more importantly, it also looks into how to detect, treat, and prevent long COVID.

“Americans living with long COVID want to understand what is happening with their bodies,” said Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

Nearly 10,000 adults participated in the study, with about 90% of them having been infected with COVID-19 before. The remaining people never had the virus.

The study data provided researchers with a way to identify a meaningful threshold to be able to find patients with long COVID. They also found that certain symptoms occurred together and defined four subgroups, or "clusters," that had a range of health impacts.

“This study is an important step toward defining long COVID beyond any one individual symptom,” said study author Leora Horwitz, MD, director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science and co-principal investigator for the RECOVER Clinical Science Core at NYU Langone Health. “This research definition — which may evolve over time — will serve as a foundation for scientific discovery and treatment design.”

The researchers also discovered that those who took part in the study who were unvaccinated and had COVID-19 for the first time before the 2021 Omicron strain, or had reinfections, were more likely to have long COVID and more severe cases of long COVID.

“All patients suffering from long COVID deserve the attention and respect of the medical field, as well as care and treatment driven by their experiences," said David C. Goff, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of NIH. "As treatments are developed, it will be important to consider the complete symptom profile.”