(HealthDay News) — People with long COVID are more likely to use health care services following acute infection, according to a study published online in PLOS Global Public Health.

Maciej Debski, MD, PhD, from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues surveyed patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection by real-time polymerase chain reaction (as of Dec. 6, 2020) to understand the burden and predictors for post-COVID-19 syndrome. The analysis included 1487 responses.

The researchers found that post-COVID-19 symptoms were reported by 52.1% of respondents. Male sex was a protective factor (relative risk [RR], 0.748). Higher body mass index (BMI) was associated with a greater risk for developing post-COVID-19 symptoms (RR, 1.031 for 1 kg/m2). One-quarter of respondents (25.4%) used further health services after their index COVID-19 infection, of whom 73.2% reported post-COVID-19 symptoms. There was a negative association observed between male sex and use of further health services (RR, 0.618), while BMI was positively associated with use (RR, 1.027). Post-COVID-19 symptoms more than tripled the probability of using health services (RR, 3.280).

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“We hope that our work will help policymakers plan local services and also inform the wider public of the scale of the long COVID pandemic,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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