From ‘Brain Fog’ To Heart Damage, COVID-19’s Lingering Probl
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The list of lingering maladies from COVID-19 is longer and more varied than most doctors could have imagined. Ongoing problems include fatigue, a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, achy joints, foggy thinking, a persistent loss of sense of smell, and damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.

The likelihood of a patient developing persistent symptoms is hard to pin down because different studies track different outcomes and follow survivors for different lengths of time.

-- One group in Italy found that 87% of a patient cohort hospitalized for acute COVID-19 was still struggling 2 months later.
-- Data from the COVID Symptom Study, which uses an app into which millions of people in the US, UK, and Sweden have tapped their symptoms, suggest 10% to 15% of people—including some “mild” cases—don’t quickly recover.

Early in the pandemic, doctors learned that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can disrupt a breathtaking array of tissues in the body. Like a key fitting neatly into a lock, SARS-CoV-2 uses a spike protein on its surface to latch onto cells’ ACE2 receptors.

The lungs, heart, gut, kidneys, blood vessels, and nervous system, among other tissues, carry ACE2 on their cells’ surfaces—and thus, are vulnerable to COVID-19. The virus can also induce a dramatic inflammatory reaction, including in the brain.

The message many researchers want to impart: Don’t underestimate the force of this virus. “Even if the story comes out a little scary, we need a bit of that right now,” they say, because the world needs to know how high the stakes are. “Once the disease is established, it’s really hard to go backward.”

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