A third of people who contract the coronavirus go on to develop Long COVID, a new study has shown.
Researchers from the UCLA have found that individuals with previous history of hospitalisation, a high BMI and diabetes are more likely to develop Long COVID.
Meanwhile, those who are insured by Medicaid, rather than commercial health insurance, or people who have had an organ transplant are more protected from developing the condition, the study has reported.
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Ethnicity, socioeconomic status and age did not trigger the development of Long COVID, the researchers have said.
During the study, the team of scientists examined more than 1,000 adults between April 2020 and February 2021, all of whom had been infected with the coronavirus.
Out of all the participants, 309 went on to develop Long COVID, according to the results. As part of the study, the participants who developed Long COVID self-reported the symptoms they were experiencing.
According to the findings, the most common symptoms amongst the participants who were admitted to hospital included breathing difficulties and extreme tiredness, whereas a loss of sense and smell was the most persistent symptom amongst outpatients.
First author, Dr Sun Yoo said: “This study illustrates the need to follow diverse patient populations longitudinally to understand the Long COVID disease trajectory and evaluate how individual factors such a pre-existing co-morbidities, sociodemographic factors, vaccination status and virus variant type affect type and persistence of Long COVID symptoms.
“Studying outcomes in a single health system can minimise variation in quality of medical care. Our study also raises questions such as: Why are people with commercial insurance twice as likely to develop Long COVID than those insured through Medicaid?”
Dr Yoo added: “Persistent symptoms can be subjective in nature; we need better tools to accurately diagnose Long COVID and to differentiate it from exacerbations of other emerging or chronic conditions. Finally, we need to ensure equitable access to outpatient Long COVID care.”
The findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.