Long Covid is leading to organ damage in younger people, a new study has shown.
The findings have been released just as the NHS has announced it plans to create a network of Long Covid specialist clinics across England to support people who are suffering.
It is thought Long Covid currently impacts around 60,000 Brits who are dealing with fatigue, breathlessness and pain four months after overcoming the initial infection of COVID-19.
These latest findings have been taken from the COVERSCAN study which is closely studying the effects of Long Covid over a two-year period in people who are considered low-risk patients.
Of the 201 volunteers, 197 said they had fatigue, 176 were experiencing muscle ache and 166 were getting regular headaches.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, researcher Professor Amitav Banerjee, a cardiologist and associate professor of clinical data science at University College London, said: “The good news is that the impairment is mild, but even with a conservative lens, there is some impairment, and in 25% of people it affects two or more organs.
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“This is of interest because we need to know if [the impairments] continue or improve – or if there is a subgroup of people who could get worse.”
In some cases, the research team were able to match the symptoms to the organ that had been damaged. They found their breathlessness sometimes correlated with heart or lung damage, while liver or pancreas impairments were associated with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Professor Banerjee said: “It supports the idea that there is an insult at organ level, and potentially multi-organ level, which is detectable, and which could help to explain at least some of the symptoms and the trajectory of the disease.”
However, the study volunteers were not scanned prior to the study so they could have had prior health conditions they did not know about and the findings do not prove that the organ damage is the cause of the Long Covid symptoms.