People who have recovered from a serious bout of COVID-19 may still have reason to be concerned for their health within the year of their recovery.
A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine suggests survivors of severe COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to die within a year after infection compared to patients who tested negative for the disease or experienced only mild symptoms.
Researchers from the University of Florida analyzed electronic health records of 13,638 patients who were tested for the virus using a PCR test in the Florida health system. Among those tested, 178 patients experienced severe symptoms and were hospitalized while 246 had only mild or moderate symptoms. The rest tested negative for the virus.
The study tracked patients over 12 months after they fully recovered and found those who had severe COVID-19 were 233 percent more likely to die.
“COVID-19 is even more devastating than we thought when only focusing on the initial episode. The downstream risk for the most severe outcome, death, is definitely high enough to hopefully make everyone rethink the impact of COVID-19,” Arch G. Mainous, a professor at the University of Florida and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
Most deaths among severe COVID-19 survivors were not attributed to complications commonly associated with the disease, such as cardiovascular, respiratory and clotting problems. Just 20 percent of deaths were associated with these issues while the majority were the result of a variety of other conditions not typically associated with the coronavirus.
Surprisingly, the study found the increased risk of dying was greater for severe COVID-19 patients under 65.
Researchers said the study underscores the importance of vaccinations in reducing severe disease.
“These findings reinforce that the internal trauma of being sick enough to be hospitalized with COVID-19 has a big consequence for people’s health. This is a huge complication of COVID-19 that has not been shown before,” Mainous said.
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