Long COVID occurs in approximately a third of COVID survivors and is now the third leading neurologic disorder in the United States. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Northwestern Medicine physicians noticed this growing trend and established one of the first Comprehensive COVID-19 Centers in the United States to treat patients suffering from lingering impacts of the virus such as brain fog, shortness of breath and chest pain. Three years later, a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine reports key findings from more than 1,800 patients who were evaluated during the first 21 months at the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center (CCC) with neurology, pulmonology and cardiology being the most commonly accessed specialties and still in high-demand today.
The team evaluated 1,802 patients (350 post-hospitalization and 1,452 non-hospitalized) via telehealth or in-person at the CCC between May 2020 and February 2022. Patients were seen in 2,361 initial visits in 12 specialty clinics including neurology, pulmonology, cardiology, otolaryngology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, nephrology, hematology, dermatology, psychiatry and rheumatology. Patients most commonly sought treatment from neurology (49%), pulmonology (25%) and cardiology (12%) specialists.
Among patients tested:
– 85% of patients reported decreased quality of life
– 51% had cognitive impairment
– 45% had altered lung function
– 83% had abnormal CT chest scans
– 12% had elevated heart rate on rhythm monitoring
– Frequency of cognitive impairment and pulmonary dysfunction was associated with severity of acute COVID-19
– Non-hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 testing had similar findings than those with negative or no test results
– 65% of patients identified as female
– Average age at first clinic visit was 47 years old
– 72% were White, 10% were Black, 4% were Asian and 13% were Hispanic
Publication Date: 13 Jul 2023
Publication Site: Northwestern Medical