TUESDAY, Oct. 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) — More than half of COVID-19 survivors experience long-term postacute sequelae six months after recovery from acute illness, according to a review published online Oct. 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Destin Groff, from Penn State College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to understand the short-term and long-term postacute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) infection and to estimate organ system-specific frequency.

Based on 57 studies (250,351 COVID-19 survivors; 79 percent had been hospitalized during acute COVID-19 illness), the researchers found that the median proportion of COVID-19 survivors experiencing at least one PASC was 54 percent at one month (short term), 55 percent at two to five months (intermediate term), and 54 percent at six or more months (long term). Chest imaging abnormality (median, 62.2 percent), difficulty concentrating (median, 23.8 percent), generalized anxiety disorder (median, 29.6 percent), general functional impairments (median, 44 percent), and fatigue or muscle weakness (median, 37.5 percent) were the most prevalent sequelae. Cardiac; dermatologic; digestive; and ear, nose, and throat disorders were also reported.

“These long-term PASC effects occur on a scale that could overwhelm existing health care capacity, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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