Myriad studies have suggested COVID-19 infection is strongly associated with long-term consequences, including developing new diseases. One study, presented during a poster session at this week’s 2023 European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), evaluated the occurrence of new diseases in post-acute COVID-19 patients.

To determine whether the risk of developing new diseases has varied throughout the course of the pandemic, the investigators retrospectively analyzed data from 2 different timepoints. Utilizing multicenter noninterventional real-world registries, they gathered data from patients who contracted COVID-19 in 2020 (n = 5112) and in 2021-2022 (n = 2239).

The patient cohorts were evaluated at 3 and 6 months after acute COVID-19 infection, with the investigators analyzing the rates of newly diagnoses chronic diseases. Diseases included arterial hypertension, chronic kidney disease (CKD), coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, chronic heart failure (CHF), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), type 2 diabetes, oncology, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, hypothyroidism, rheumatologic diseases, and gastrointestinal pathology.

The investigators noted key differences between the 2 cohorts, including that the patients who contracted COVID-19 in 2021-2022 were significantly older and had more comorbidities. However, parameters such as BMI, pulmonary embolism, and mortality did not differ between the 2 cohorts.

At 3 months after recovery, the patients who contracted COVID-19 between 2021-2022 were 1.54 times more likely to develop previously absent chronic condition than patients who were infected in 2020. The risk was especially heightened for CHD, CHF, and rheumatologic diseases.

After 6 months, this trend was even more robust, with the 2021-2022 COVID-19 patients 2.39 times more likely to develop new diseases. Specifically, COPD, DVT, and rheumatologic diseases were more likely to develop 6 months after COVID-19 reevaluation in patients who contracted COVID-19 in 2021-2022 versus in 2020.

The investigators concluded that patients who contracted COVID-19 later in the pandemic had a higher chance of developing previously absent chronic disease at 3 months and 6 months after acute illness. They noted that further investigation is needed to identify contributors that may exacerbate these outcomes. Potential risk factors could include more severe baseline condition, pathophysiology of the infectious process, socioeconomic status.

This study, “Pandemic lessons: new onset diseases in the post-infection period of COVID-19,” was presented during a poster session at ECCMID 2023.

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