Long Covid: Scientists may have found ‘root cause’ of lingering symptoms – major finding

Long covid: Expert discusses number of people suffering in UK

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Long Covid refers to a set of symptoms – such as muscle pain, sleep problems and headaches – that can persist for weeks or months after an active infection of COVID-19 has ended. Despite affecting between 10 and 30 percent of adults who contract the virus, the syndrome remains poorly understood. However, new research has shed light on the matter; researchers have found that patients with Long Covid have high measures of blood clotting which they believe may be the key reason behind the lingering symptoms.

Researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences examined 50 patients suffering Long Covid in a bid to better understand whether abnormal blood clotting could be linked to the syndrome.

The team had previously studied the prevalence of blood clotting in patients with severe acute COVID-19, but had yet to probe the occurrence of such clotting in patients with persistent symptoms.

In their latest study, the team discovered that clotting markers were significantly elevated in the blood of patients with Long Covid syndrome, compared with health controls.

These clotting markers were higher in patients who required hospitalisation with their COVID-19 infection.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca vaccine blood clots: Scientists have discovered a crucial piece of the puzzle

However, those who managed their conditions from home also showed higher levels of clotting markers.

Furthermore, the researchers observed that higher clotting was directly related to other symptoms of Long Covid syndrome, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue.

They observed that, even when inflammation markers had returned to normal levels, this increased clotting was still present in Long Covid patients.

Doctor Fogarty, the study’s lead author, said: “Because clotting markers were elevated while inflammation markers had returned to normal, our study suggests that the clotting system may be involved in the root cause of Long Covid syndrome.”

Professor James O’Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, added: “Understanding the root cause of a disease is the first step toward developing effective treatments.

“Millions of people are already dealing with the symptoms of Long Covid syndrome, and more people will develop Long Covid as the infections among the unvaccinated continue to occur.

“It is imperative that we continue to study this condition and develop effective treatments.”

It comes as figures last week revealed that more than 100,000 Britons under the age of 25 endured months of debilitating symptoms following a COVID-19 infection.

The most common symptoms of the syndrome are fatigue, post-exertional malaise – worsened health following physical exertion – and brain fog.

Other effects include visual hallucinations, tremors, itchy skin, changes to the menstrual cycle, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control issues, shingles, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhoea and tinnitus.

The NHS has published a list of 14 symptoms for those experiencing long Covid:

Extreme tiredness
Shortness of breath
Chest pain or tightness
Problems with memory and concentration
Difficulty sleeping
Heart palpitations
Pins and Needle
Joint pain
Tinnitus, earaches
Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
Depression and anxiety
High temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, change to sense of smell or taste

The health body’s list of symptoms is not exhaustive, as studies are still ongoing.

Separate research has also flagged the long-term implications of Covid-related problems occurring during the acute phase of illness among patients admitted to hospital.

One study, published in the Lancet, found that half of those hospitalised with COVID-19 developed at least one additional complication during their stay.

The findings also showed that a quarter of patients were less able to look after themselves when they were discharged from hospital, threatening to place substantial strain on health systems in the coming years.

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