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Large survey reveals who may be most at risk for long COVID

Large survey reveals who may be most at risk for long COVID
Written by admin_3fxxacau

It’s a question everyone wants an answer to: who is most likely to develop long COVID-19[feminine]the debilitating symptoms that can persist for weeks, months or even longer after an infection?

A new unpublished study from 23andMe is part of a growing body of research shedding light on who is experiencing post-COVID conditions and why. The survey, which was voluntary and based on people’s self-reported symptoms, had several major findings, including that women were significantly more likely to experience long-term symptoms, as were people with a history of depression or of anxiety. More than half of people who reported a diagnosis of long COVID had a history of cardiometabolic disease, such as heart attacks or diabetes.

The 23andMe survey included 100,000 people who reported a diagnosis of COVID. Of those, 26,000 described feeling symptoms of COVID at least a month after being infected. Additionally, more than 7,000 participants reported an official diagnosis of long COVID. Survey participants were asked about their symptoms at 3, 6, and 12 months. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13.3% of people with COVID will have symptoms for at least a month, and 2.5% of people will have symptoms for more than three months.

Dr Stella Aslibekyan, genetic epidemiologist for the South San Francisco-based Consumer Genetics Society, told SFGATE that the 23andMe study is unique because it is so large and directly asks people about their symptoms. Many other long-term symptom studies are smaller and based on data from medical records, as opposed to self-reported experiences.

“We are able to paint a more complete picture of the COVID experience than would be possible using just medical records,” Aslibekyan said.


There are also limitations to this approach. Participation in the study was voluntary, as opposed to a random sample of patients in a healthcare system. The demographics and characteristics of the people represented in these types of “self-selected” studies are often skewed, depending on who has enough time and interest to complete the surveys.

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, is part of an effort to solve the mystery of why so many people experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, fever, fatigue, brain fog, or chest pain. for weeks to months after a COVID infection. Many of these symptoms match the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, a poorly understood condition that has often been linked to other viral infections, including influenza and Epstein-Barr.

“One hypothesis positions long COVID as an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues,” Aslibekyan said.

Numerous studies have shown that long-term symptoms are much more likely to occur in the most severe cases of COVID, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that “Anyone who has been infected with the virus can experience post-COVID conditions, even people who have had mild illness or no symptoms of COVID-19. »

“Researchers found that people with COVID who required hospitalization had a more than ten times greater risk of being diagnosed with long COVID compared to those who were not hospitalized when controlling for age, sex and ethnicity,” 23andMe said.

Depression and anxiety also appear to be risk factors.

For Aslibekyan, one of the most illuminating findings from the survey was that people diagnosed with long COVID were twice as likely to report having suffered from depression or anxiety before becoming infected.

There are extensive research in the relationship between depression and the immune system. People with conditions that cause the immune system to become overactive are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, and vice versa.

“When [depressed people] are affected by this acute COVID-19 infection, these long-term symptoms also represent inappropriate immune system dysfunction, so it makes sense that they are more vulnerable to these long-term immune system dysfunctions,” Aslibekyan said.

Women are more likely than men to have long COVID

The researchers also found that people with two X chromosomes are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with long COVID as men. This finding is consistent with other studies.

Aslibekyan said autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and Sjogren’s syndrome, are also more prevalent in women than in men.

“The prevalence in females is actually relevant to biology here, because X chromosomes contain many genes related to the immune system,” Aslibekyan said.

The double dose of these genes can lead to stronger immune responses, whether appropriate responses to disease or uncontrollable inflammatory processes.

Brain fog was the most common self-reported symptom

The most common symptom reported by survey respondents was brain fog, a term for slow thinking, followed by fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of smell. Among people who received long diagnoses of COVID, about 19% reported brain fog a year after infection.

Among participants who received vaccines after catching COVID, more than half (55%) reported no change in their symptoms, 25% reported an improvement in symptoms, and about 13% reported that their symptoms improved. are aggravated. The others didn’t know, weren’t sure, or didn’t answer.

23andMe started collecting data in April 2020. This means many people in the survey got COVID-19 before the vaccine was available.

“So what does this tell us? said Aslibekian. “The vaccine may not be a cure for the long COVID. Now what we do know is that the vaccine is very effective in preventing both initial infection and hospitalization, yes. And hospitalization was associated with a tenfold increase in the risk of long COVID. The vaccine is therefore excellent for prevention.

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