Overweight women may be most likely to battle long-COVID symptoms

ENGLAND– COVID-19 continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. New findings from one of the largest studies conducted on the coronavirus in the U.K. shows that overweight women are more likely to suffer long COVID symptoms than men.

Prior studies reveal that long COVID infections can lead to various health complications. These include hair loss, low libido, blood clotting, and difficulty exercising.

“Just over two million people in the UK are thought to suffer with long Covid and it affects people in different ways. Breathlessness, a cough, heart palpitations, headaches, and severe fatigue are among the most prevalent symptoms,” says Prof Vassilios Vassiliou, from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, in a statement.

Due to the high prevalence, Vassiliou and team wanted to deepen their understanding of what makes some recover slowly than others. To do this, they surveyed a total of 1,487 patients who had received a positive COVID-19 PCR test result in 2020. They found that over half of the participants self-reported at least one long COVID symptom — either breathlessness, consistent cough, chest pain/tightness, fatigue, memory problems, or anxiety.

In the general population, it’s also been reported that some may feel dizzy, have brain fog, insomnia, joint pain, depression or anxiety, tinnitus, appetite loss, headaches, or altered taste and/or smell.

“We show that more than a half of the survey respondents who tested positive for Covid in the East of England during the first year of the pandemic went on to report long Covid symptoms,” says Professor Vassiliou.

They then went on to study potential factors that could make people more or less likely to suffer from long COVID by looking at medical records and taking factors like BMI, sex, medication, other illnesses, and living conditions into account. They discovered that those with a higher BMI were more likely to suffer from long-term COVID complications, and further found that women are more likely to than men.

The team hopes that their results assist policymaking efforts to and public health awareness about long COVID to strengthen patient care.

“When Covid-19 struck it was new to everyone. All clinicians and the wider health and care system worked extremely hard together to deal with the impacts of the virus and protect our people and communities. Our academic colleagues at the University of East Anglia have really helped local health and care organiations to identify local patients at risk of long Covid, helping us to do all we can to support them on their recovery journey,” says Dr Mark Lim, interim service director of the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health.

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About the Author

Shyla Cadogan

Shyla Cadogan is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Food Science. She is on her way to becoming a Registered Dietitian, with next steps being completion of a dietetic internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center where she currently is gaining experience with various populations and areas of medical nutrition such as Pediatrics, Oncology, GI surgery, and liver and renal transplant. Shyla also has extensive research experience in food composition analysis and food resource management.

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