It’s been years since COVID-19 first disrupted our lives, and while we’re slowly returning to normal, we’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic one way or another. While we may be through with the immediate health risks of coronavirus, there are still several long-term post-COVID health risks you should watch out for.
From mental health issues to high cholesterol levels and possible heart damage, the list of health risks after recovering from COVID-19 is extensive and ever-growing. Here are some of the most common post-COVID health risks you should know about:
Elevated levels of cholesterol
Some COVID-19 survivors have experienced an increased risk of cardiovascular problems that linger long after the virus has passed. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology found that people who have had COVID-19 infections had a 24% increased risk for high cholesterol.
Studies have found that levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol remain high in infected individuals up to a year later, while their “good” HDL cholesterol levels often stays low.
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. This is especially concerning given that one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 is fatigue – which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and further increase risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Higher BMI points and metabolic issues
A second study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases in late December, found higher body mass index (BMI) points in a much younger group of people who have recovered from COVID-19. These findings suggest a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders and health complications, including cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease and even certain types of cancer.
A higher BMI could also cause issues with blood vessels and the heart. This, in turn, can lead to long-term hypertension and diabetes – two of the most common chronic illnesses associated with obesity.
Post-viral fatigue and reduced stamina
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, and it can last for weeks or even months after you’ve recovered from the virus. In fact, a study found that nearly 50% of people who have had COVID-19 still experience fatigue six months later. It’s believed to be caused by inflammation in the body which leads to extreme tiredness and difficulty sleeping.
Reduced stamina is another common long-term symptom of the virus. Many people who have had COVID-19 report finding it difficult to do simple everyday tasks like climbing stairs or walking, due to exhaustion and lack of energy.
Long-term effects of COVID-19 infection include major health risks due to its ability to cause heart problems such as cardiac inflammation or myocarditis. This is an inflammatory response of the heart muscle, which can lead to diminished heart function and damage to the heart tissue.
Research indicates that those who have experienced mild cases or no previous medical issues are not immune – with up to 60% showing signs of ongoing cardiac inflammation and symptoms like shortness of breath, palpitations and rapid heartbeat.
Some individuals may present with chest pain, arrhythmia and other heart-related symptoms after a bout of COVID-19, as well as long-term issues such as decreased cardiac function.
COVID-19 can also have a significant impact on the kidneys. Studies have shown that those who have had COVID-19 are more likely to experience kidney damage, and in some cases, even failure. This is because the virus can cause a wide range of issues from an acute kidney injury to a long-term decrease in kidney function.
The virus can also cause renal hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the kidney vessels. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Mental health issues
Along with physical symptoms, it’s important to consider the mental health effects of COVID-19. The pandemic has an immense impact on emotional and mental well-being, and the effects can last long after the virus is gone.
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common post-COVID health risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports a great number of people have reported psychological distress and symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress.
What can you do?
The best way to protect yourself from the long-term health risks of COVID-19 is to monitor your health and focus on preventing further complications down the line. Here are a few tips on how you can keep your health in check:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced and nutrient-dense diet, exercising regularly and getting enough quality sleep are all essential for keeping your body strong and healthy.
- Stay up to date with vaccinations: Vaccines are one of the best tools for fighting off infectious diseases like COVID-19. Keeping yourself up to date with recommended vaccinations will help protect you from the virus.
- Stop smoking: Smoking is known to increase the risk of severe COVID-19, so it’s best to quit now.
- Monitor your mental health: Mental health is an important part of overall well-being and can be strongly impacted by the pandemic and its aftermath. Take time each day to practice mindfulness and self-care activities like yoga or meditation.
- Seek medical help: If you experience any of the post-COVID health risks mentioned above, make sure to get in touch with your healthcare provider. Early diagnosis and treatment will help minimize any long-term damage.
Don’t ignore the risks
Taking care of both your physical and mental health is an essential part of protecting yourself from the long-term effects of COVID-19. To ensure you’re doing everything possible to stay safe for years down the line, reach out to Nao Medical today! Our team will work with you on a personalized care plan that fits your lifestyle and provides ongoing support.