A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Florida suggests that adults who were hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19 are twice as likely to die within a year of contracting the illness as uninfected people, Business Insider reports.
Researchers looked at over 13,000 patient records from the University of Florida health system from January to June of last year, before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available. They found that of the 180 patients who left the university system after being hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19, 93 died within 12 months of their discharge.
"A lot of times when people have an infectious disease, they have it and then the episode ends and it's pretty much gone," Arch Mainous, who led the study for the university, told Insider.
He added that COVID-19 is unusual, noting that "just because you get out of the hospital, it's not over," and that none of the deceased patients in his study had COVID-19 listed as a cause of death.
The researchers found COVID-19 patients under the age of 65 who were discharged from the hospital were three-times as likely to die within a year as uninfected people. Insider notes that COVID-19 patients over the age of 65 are less likely to recover initially than younger patients, who are more likely to have lingering symptoms that can last for months or years after they survive the severe infection.
"The internal trauma of having a severe COVID episode is manifested even more so in these young people," Mainous said.
He added that researchers are unsure of the exact reason why COVID-19 patients die of long-term complications, but theorized that the virus could cause a persistent inflammatory response that harms a patient’s organs even after they recover from the initial infection. This generally results in three issues for patients: blood clots along with cardiovascular, and respiration problems.
"We believe that there's a huge inflammatory response which is systemic and that's why we don't see it localized only in one spot," Mainous said.
"There may be some sort of organ system dysregulation that we didn't think about and that we're not monitoring," he added.
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