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Long COVID is to blame for more than 3,500 deaths so far, CDC reports

Thousands of death certificates previously counted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as COVID-19 deaths were actually related to long covidthe ongoing symptoms that some people struggle with for weeks, months, or even years after your initial recovery from a coronavirus infection.

New findings from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, posted on wednesdayCount at least 3,544 long-COVID-related deaths through June 2022, a number that the researchers say is likely an underestimate of the true number.

The count represents only 0.3% of the More than a million COVID death certificates reviewed by the agency. They searched for keywords in the reported cause of death linked to what doctors call “post-acute sequelae of COVID-19,” or PASC, including terms like “chronic COVID,” “long COVID,” “long-distance COVID,” and ” post-covid”. COVID syndrome.”

Coroners and doctors completing death certificates’ understanding of how to classify these symptoms has evolved throughout the pandemic, they say.

“We have limited information on prolonged mortality from COVID,” NCHS official Farida Ahmad, one of the report’s authors, told a panel of outside agency advisers. in October. “There are currently no estimates of the number of protracted deaths from COVID in the US and this is due to a number of challenges. COVID protracted diagnostic guidelines evolve over time as we understand more about the condition, for so there hasn’t been a simple diagnostic test for a long time.” COVID-19.”

New federal guidance that aims to standardize the reporting of these deaths has yet to be released. Ahmad told the panel earlier this year that the agency planned to issue its new recommendations based in part on the report’s findings. An NCHS spokesperson said the agency still planned to release new recommendations, but said there was no date for their release yet.

Nearly 8 in 10 reported prolonged COVID deaths occurred in older people, with Americans ages 75 to 84 making up the largest percentage (28.8%) of these deaths. About 8 in 10 of the reported deaths were among white people, and the rates for men were higher than for women in almost all age groups.

Reports of protracted deaths from COVID varied substantially over the course of the pandemic, with many being reported around the Omicron surge last winter. The highest monthly toll was in February 2022.

More than two-thirds of the deaths citing prolonged COVID were on certificates citing COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death. Heart disease was the second most frequent underlying cause, cited in 8.6% of prolonged COVID deaths.

The symptoms and toll of the long COVID

Scientists continue to study how to diagnose and treat Spread spectrum of reported prolonged COVID symptoms, which can range from shortness of breath to changes in the menstrual cycle. Some other common symptoms include fatigue; “post-exertional malaise,” which means feeling worse after exercise or exertion; “brain fog,” headache, cough, chest pain, or abdominal pain.

Patients may have organ damage that can persist long after the acute phase of the infection has passed.

A review by Veterans Affairs authors, published at the beginning of this year, found that major organ damage ranges from 2% to 22% in studies of COVID-19 patients after discharge from the hospital. Some were at higher risk of new problems, such as stroke, after being discharged.

An ongoing survey published by the CDCin conjunction with the US Census Bureau, estimated in November that about 5.4% of adults say they are experiencing limits on what they can do as a result of long-term COVID.

However, simply counting the true prevalence of COVID over a long period of time remains elusive for scientists.

Many people may not even know they had a COVID infection before developing symptoms, officials say, or may have difficulty determining whether they have recovered from their longstanding COVID symptoms.

Another NCHS project has been conducting in-depth “cognitive interviews” with COVID-19 survivors, assessing how they respond to survey questions about persistent symptoms.

“Another follow-up question we asked was, ‘Are you still experiencing any of these symptoms now?’ One respondent responded, “I don’t know,” Meredith Massey, an NCHS scientist who participated in the interviews, said at the agency’s October meeting.

“This respondent elaborated: ‘I probably have no idea. I don’t know if my taste is fully back because the memory of how my taste used to be is not the same,'” Massey added.

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