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Long haulers: Living with the lingering effects of COVID-19

Coronavirus

COVID-19 researchers and survivors are sounding the alarm about the potential long-term health impacts of the virus up to 35% of patients are still experiencing symptoms after they’re considered “recovered.”

They call themselves long haulers. Their symptoms range from fatigue to joint pain, headaches, and heart abnormalities.

“Joint pain, headache, brain fog, I lose my train of thought,” says Jennica Harris. “It’s gotten to the point where its been difficult to care for myself,” says Katrina Webb, another long hauler.

A recent Centers for Disease Control report finds a third of coronavirus patients who weren’t sick enough to be hospitalized still aren’t feeling back to normal weeks after diagnosis, and two studies out of Germany last month indicate the virus may linger in the heart for months, even among those who experienced mild illness.

Northwestern Medicine Chief of Cardiology Dr. Clyde Yancy wrote an editorial accompanying the studies.

The first found heart abnormalities in 78 of 100 patients months after recovery.

The second looked at autopsies of 39 patients and discovered evidence of the virus in the heart tissue of 24.

“This is novel. These are things we’ve not ever seen before,” Dr. Yancy says. “We need to look at other groups, groups that were not in Germany for example, look at other age groups, races. We need to understand if this is a ubiquitous problem or a selective problem.”

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