New Study Shows Long-Term Health Effects of Influenza and COVID-19
New research conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System has revealed that individuals hospitalized with seasonal influenza can experience long-term negative health consequences, particularly in the lungs and airways. The study also found that patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 or the flu face an increased risk of death, hospital readmission, and other health issues in the 18 months following infection, with the highest risk occurring after 30 days.
Published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the findings shed light on the toll that hospitalization with either COVID-19 or the flu can take on individuals and emphasize that both viruses can result in long-term health problems. The study analyzed the medical records of 81,280 COVID-19 patients and 10,985 flu patients, encompassing a diverse range of ages, races, and sexes. Surprisingly, the results showed that the vaccination status of patients did not affect the outcomes, indicating that both viruses can pose significant risks regardless of vaccination status.
Interestingly, while the flu was found to pose a higher risk to the pulmonary system, COVID-19 was found to be more aggressive, potentially affecting any organ system. This means that COVID-19 can lead to fatal or severe conditions involving the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs. Both viruses were found to carry a significant risk of disability and disease, with COVID-19 showing an increased risk of 68% of health conditions studied across all organ systems, while the flu was associated with an elevated risk in the respiratory system.
The study also revealed that COVID-19 patients had a higher risk of hospital readmission and ICU admission compared to flu patients. These findings underscore the importance of reducing hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and the flu to alleviate the overall burden of health loss. Moreover, the study emphasizes the crucial role of vaccination in preventing severe disease and reducing the risk of hospitalizations and death associated with these viruses.
Furthermore, more than half of the deaths and disabilities attributed to both COVID-19 and the flu occurred in the months following infection, indicating the long-term effects of these viral infections on human health. This highlights the need to recognize influenza and COVID-19 as major drivers of chronic diseases and underscores the importance of addressing their long-term impacts.
As the world continues to battle the ongoing pandemic and prepares for the flu season, these findings serve as a reminder of the profound consequences of these viral infections and the importance of taking preventative measures to protect public health.
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