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Serious cases of "long-haul COVID-19" are rare in patients who were not hospitalized after their infection, but these patients still report more doctor or health care visits after recovery,. Danish researchers report.
The new six-month study found that COVID patients who were not hospitalized had small increased risks of blood clots and breathing difficulties. They were also more likely to start medicines for breathing difficulties and migraines than those who weren't infected.
These former COVID patients visited their primary care provider and outpatient hospital care more often than people who weren't infected, researchers said.
For the study, published May 10 in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the researchers compared data from nearly 9,000 Danes who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to more than 80,000 people without COVID.
"The majority of people with COVID-19 are not admitted to the hospital," said lead author Anton Pottegard, a clinical pharmacist at the University of Southern Denmark. "Our study finds a very low risk of severe delayed effects from COVID-19 in people who didn't require hospitalization for the infection."
But the new study provided evidence for some long-term effects of COVID that did not require hospitalization or use of new medicines. That resulted in higher use of primary care health services after infection, Pottegard said.
"This highlights the need to ensure clinicians have the resources and support to manage any potential long-term conditions," he said in a journal news release.
Compared to others, those who tested positive for COVID were at an increased risk of taking medications to widen the airways (1.8% compared with 1.5%), and to treat migraines (0.4% compared with 0.3%).
They also had greater odds for breathing difficulties (1.2% compared with 0.7%) and blood clots in the veins (0.2 % compared with 0.1%).
Also, people who tested positive visited their general practitioners around 20% more often than others and visited outpatient clinics 10% more often. There was no difference in visits to emergency rooms or hospitalizations.
There's more about post-COVID conditions at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: The Lancet Infectious Diseases, news release, May 10, 2021
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