A new study found that some COVID-19 patients were diagnosed with shortness of breath, type 2 diabetes and fatigue weeks after initial infection.

A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open found that hospitalized patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to experience shortness of breath, fatigue and type diabetes 2 months later.

The research, led by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, examined aggregate data from electronic health records of more than 2 million patients who were tested for COVID-19 between March and December 2020 and who had medical encounters. between 31 and 150 days after the test.

"Although new symptoms and conditions rarely arose, applying the ratios of these rare events to the millions of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 means that a significant number could experience new symptoms and conditions after their acute illness," the researchers noted. researchers at Who. learn.


Information continues to emerge about COVID-19 and the ongoing effects after initial infection, sometimes referred to as "long-term COVID."

As the researchers note, population-based estimates of the onset of new symptoms and conditions after a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 remain poorly characterized.

To fill this gap, the team drew on the National Network for Patient-Centered Clinical Research, PCORnet, a nationwide research network.

As of April 2020, PCORnet began surveillance for COVID-19 in 42 health systems and one health plan, with data available for approximately 12 million people.

For this particular study, the researchers analyzed the records of 338,024 people under the age of 20 and 1,790,886 people over the age of 20 from 40 health care systems.

They compared the prevalence of new symptoms and conditions between positive and negative COVID-19 test results stratified by age and care setting (ie, nonhospital, hospitalized, or hospitalized and ventilated).

Shortness of breath was more common in patients over the age of 20 who tested positive, regardless of whether they were hospitalized.

The prevalence of new fatigue and type 2 diabetes was also higher in hospitalized patients older than 20 years who tested positive, as were diagnoses of cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, heart rate abnormalities, and myoneural disorders.

In hospitalized patients younger than 20 years, shortness of breath was also a persistent symptom; Type 2 diabetes was slightly more common among those who tested positive.

The researchers found that the prevalence of new symptoms after a positive test was higher in hospitalized people than in their nonhospitalized peers, suggesting that long-term symptoms may be more common as the severity of infection increases. coronavirus.

However, they cautioned: "The prevalence of new-onset diabetes in our population may be overestimated, as hyperglycemia or glucocorticoid use during the acute event could have unmasked diabetes, which was coded only during a follow-up visit when detected persistent hyperglycemia. ." "

"Future studies should assess whether evidence of type 2 diabetes persists beyond the time treatments might affect it," they added.

Although they noted that they were unable to determine if the new illnesses were caused by COVID-19, they stressed that health care providers should be vigilant for symptoms beyond the first month of infection.

"Longitudinal studies beyond six months after acute infection will be important to quantify the true impact of COVID-19 episodes," they said.


Computer scientists are increasingly turning to data to unravel some of the mysteries of the long COVID.

“As far as we can tell, 10-15% of people who have had COVID have these kinds of symptoms,” said Dr. Shawn Murphy, director of research information for Mass General Brigham, in an interview with Healthcare IT. News in July. "We're really talking about a large number of patients who are going to have this problem."

Still, there is some hope: Researchers have found that vaccination against COVID-19 can alleviate COVID symptoms in the long term.