Home / News / World /  Loved one's death, food poverty, more worsen symptoms of long-term COVID: Study

The death of a loved one, financial or food poverty, or the development of a new disability were some of the best indicators if a patient hospitalised for COVID-19 will suffer signs of long COVID a year later, a new study reveals.

According to a research conducted by NYU Grossman School of Medicine, adult patients with such "major life stressors" -- present in more than 50% of those followed -- were at least twice as likely to struggle with depression, brain fog, fatigue, sleep problems, and other long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

The study was published online this week in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences (JNS) and confirmed the contribution of traditional factors to greater long COVID risk as shown by past studies -- older age, disability level to start with, and a more severe initial case of COVID-19.

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"Our study is unique in that it explores the impact of life stressors -- along with demographic trends and neurological events -- as predictors of long-term cognitive and functional disabilities that affected quality of life in a large population," says lead study author Jennifer A. Frontera, MD, professor in the Department of Neurology at NYU Langone Health.

"Therapies that lessen the trauma of the most stress-inducing life events need to be a central part of treatment for long COVID, with more research needed to validate the best approaches," Frontera added.

The research used standard telephone survey tools in the field to measure level of daily function, clear thinking (cognition), anxiety, depression, fatigue and sleep quality. The team attempted follow-up with each of 790 patients six months and a year after COVID-19 hospitalization within NYU Langone Health between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020.

Of these surviving patients, 451(57%) completed 6-month and/or 12-month follow-up, and of them, 17% died between discharge and 12-month follow-up and 51% reported significant life stressors at 12-months.

Life stressors including financial insecurity, food insecurity, death of a close contact, and new disability were the strongest independent predictors of prolonged COVID-19 symptoms when analysis compared factors against each other for their contribution to worse outcomes.

These same stressors also best predicted worse functional status, depression, fatigue, sleep scores, and reduced ability to participate in activities of daily living such as feeding, dressing, and bathing, the study added.

Gender was also a contributor as past studies have found that women are more susceptible in general to autoimmune diseases that could have an impact on outcomes.

With PTI inputs.

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