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Long Covid May Cause Diabetes, Hypertension, Discovery Says

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Janice Kew and Antony Sguazzin June 8, 2022, 9:38 AM EDT Updated on June 9, 2022, 2:12 AM EDT

People who have had a documented Covid-19 infection are more likely to be hospitalized or develop diabetes or hypertension in the months after their illness, an indication of the severity of so-called long Covid, according to a study by South Africa’s biggest health insurer.

Members of Discovery Health Ltd., monitored for about a year after contracting Covid-19, were more likely to seek care for the two chronic diseases, Shirley Collie, Discovery’s chief health analytics actuary, said in an interview on Wednesday. The risk of hospitalization, for any reason, increased 10% to 20%, she said. Still, the risk of dying is no higher. Discovery has about 3.7 million members.

“We don’t observe any increased mortality risk for the recovered population,” she said. “That’s very comforting.”

Still, “the other things we are observing in the data is this increased risk of registering for diabetes, and getting a diabetes diagnosis, as well as a hypertension diagnosis. So that is quite marked in terms of the increased risk,” she said.

Medical scientists around the world have been struggling to understand long Covid, where many of those who have had even mild infections present with a range of symptoms for many months after their illness. One in five Americans have had lingering health problems from Covid-19 after first testing positive, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.


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