Overweight women more likely to experience long Covid than men


London, Dec 1

Overweight women are more likely to experience symptoms of long Covid like breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue, memory problems and anxiety than men, new research has revealed.

According to researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK, having a higher body-mass index (BMI) is linked with the condition, and "women are more likely to experience long Covid than men".

The research, published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health, also showed that people with long Covid are much more likely to need additional, and often lasting, care than those who make a swift recovery.

"Long Covid is a complex condition that develops during or after having covid, and it is classified as such when symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks," said professor Vassilios Vassiliou from UEA's Norwich Medical School.

Breathlessness, a cough, heart palpitations, headaches, and severe fatigue are among the most prevalent symptoms.

"Other symptoms may include chest pain or tightness, brain fog, insomnia, dizziness, joint pain, depression and anxiety, tinnitus, loss of appetite, headaches, and changes to sense of smell or taste," said Vassiliou.

The research team surveyed patients in Norfolk who had received a positive Covid PCR test result in 2020. A total of 1,487 people took part in an online survey which covered long Covid symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue, memory problems, and anxiety.

They found that more than half of the participants (774) were experiencing at least one long Covid symptom, showing a high self-reported prevalence.

Factors including BMI, sex, medication use, other health conditions, and whether they lived in a deprived area were taken into account.

"We show that more than a half of the survey respondents who tested positive for Covid in the East of England during the first year of the pandemic went on to report long Covid symptoms," said Vassiliou.

"Interestingly, we found that more women than men had long Covid symptoms. We also found that having a higher BMI was linked with long Covid," the researcher noted.

The team also found that people with long Covid were over three times more likely to use healthcare services than those who didn't display long Covid symptoms.


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