February 10, 2023

Effect of preinfection healthy lifestyle on long COVID

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, finds that a preinfection healthy lifestyle was linked to a substantially decreased risk of post-COVID-19 condition (PCC), informally known as long COVID.

This prospective cohort analysis included 32,249 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Of 1,981 women with a positive COVID-19 test followed-up over a 19-month period, 871 developed PCC.

After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and pre-existing conditions, women with 5 or 6 healthy lifestyle factors had a nearly 50% lower risk of PCC than those without any healthy lifestyle factors. These associations were driven mainly by healthy body weight and adequate sleep. If these associations were causal, and if all participants had 5 to 6 healthy lifestyle factors before the pandemic, 36% of PCC cases would have been prevented.

Future research should investigate whether lifestyle interventions could decrease the risk of developing PCC or benefit those with PCC or other chronic postinfection syndromes, the researchers conclude.


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