(HealthDay News) — More than half of COVID-19 survivors experience long-term postacute sequelae 6 months after recovery from acute illness, according to a review published online in JAMA Network Open.

Destin Groff, from Penn State College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to understand the short-term and long-term postacute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) infection and to estimate organ system-specific frequency.

Based on 57 studies (250,351 COVID-19 survivors; 79% had been hospitalized during acute COVID-19 illness), the researchers found that the median proportion of COVID-19 survivors experiencing at least 1 PASC was 54% at 1 month (short term), 55% at 2-5 months (intermediate term), and 54% at 6 or more months (long term). Chest imaging abnormality (median, 62.2%), difficulty concentrating (median, 23.8%), generalized anxiety disorder (median, 29.6%), general functional impairments (median, 44%), and fatigue or muscle weakness (median, 37.5%) were the most prevalent sequelae. Cardiac; dermatologic; digestive; and ear, nose, and throat disorders were also reported.

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“These long-term PASC effects occur on a scale that could overwhelm existing health care capacity, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text