COVID-19 patients face increased health risks for up to 2 years, study finds

Patients who developed COVID-19 earlier on in the pandemic will experiencing lingering health problems even two years later, according to the results of a new study.

COVID-19 patients face increased health risks for up to 2 years, study finds

People who contracted COVID-19 will be at a heightened risk for developing health problems, according to the results of a new study published Monday.

The study, published in Nature Medicine, analyzed the health records of nearly 140,000 U.S. veterans who’d been infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic. The results were compared with nearly 6 million individuals who did not test positive for the virus.

The team found that even two years after contracting the virus, people who had COVID-19 were at an elevated risk for certain health issues, including certain cardiovascular and mental health disorders, as well as kidney and gastrointestinal problems. 

The landmark study is among the first to track the effects of COVID-19 beyond a few months to a year after initial infection. 

The study suggests that patients who were hospitalized with severe COVID-19 infections were at a greater risk of developing longer-term health issues. But people who got COVID-19 and were not hospitalized still exhibited lingering health problems. 

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), mostly older males. It was also exclusive to patients who were infected in 2020, before vaccines became widely available and before the general population could build up immunity. The timeframe also allowed the researchers to conduct follow-ups over the two-year time span.