May 23, 2022

Long COVID-19 in seniors may be overlooked by clinicians

By: Tarsilla Moura

Editor's Note

OR Manager recently reported on a study that found that older age is a risk factor for long COVID-19—described as ongoing or new health problems that occur at least 4 weeks after COVID-19 infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to that study, older patients were significantly more likely to have long COVID-19, compared with individuals aged 40 and below.

According to a May 18 article on Kaiser Health News (KHN), symptoms of long COVID-19 are often overlooked in seniors, the population most at risk of battling with the disease. Because symptoms of long COVID-19—such as fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle and joint paint, as well as memory and concentration problems—are also common factors of aging, clinicians are having difficulties in recognizing the condition in older patients.

“Much about the condition is baffling: There is no diagnostic test to confirm it, no standard definition of the ailment, and no way to predict who will be affected,” KHN noted. The article cites a February 2022 Medicare study published in BMJ that “estimated that 32% of older adults in the US who survived COVID-19 had symptoms of long COVID-19 for up to 4 months after infection.” That rate is more than double the 14% of adults aged 18 to 64 who an earlier study estimated to have had long COVID-19 post-infection.

Applying the Medicare/BMJ study’s findings to the latest data from the CDC suggests that up to 2.5 million older adults may have been affected by long COVID-19, KHN noted.


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