Long covid-mechanisms, risk factors, and management

BMJ. 2021 Jul 26;374:n1648. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n1648.

Abstract

Since its emergence in Wuhan, China, covid-19 has spread and had a profound effect on the lives and health of people around the globe. As of 4 July 2021, more than 183 million confirmed cases of covid-19 had been recorded worldwide, and 3.97 million deaths. Recent evidence has shown that a range of persistent symptoms can remain long after the acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, and this condition is now coined long covid by recognized research institutes. Studies have shown that long covid can affect the whole spectrum of people with covid-19, from those with very mild acute disease to the most severe forms. Like acute covid-19, long covid can involve multiple organs and can affect many systems including, but not limited to, the respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal systems. The symptoms of long covid include fatigue, dyspnea, cardiac abnormalities, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle pain, concentration problems, and headache. This review summarizes studies of the long term effects of covid-19 in hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients and describes the persistent symptoms they endure. Risk factors for acute covid-19 and long covid and possible therapeutic options are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / etiology
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy / standards
  • Drug Repositioning
  • Global Burden of Disease
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index

Supplementary concepts

  • post-acute COVID-19 syndrome