Infectious Disease

Long COVID likely to follow rheumatologists for ‘rest of our careers’

August 19, 2022

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There remain more questions than available answers on the topic of long COVID, but rheumatologists should be prepared to meet the challenges presented by the disease for “the rest of our careers,” according to Leonard H. Calabrese, DO.

“Long COVID is a new disease, a new syndrome,” Calabrese, who is a professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, the RJ Fasenmyer chair of clinical immunology at the Cleveland Clinic, and chief medical editor of Healio Rheumatology, told Healio. “The sequelae of people who have acute COVID who fail to recover. There are more questions than answers, but we as rheumatologists will be confronted by this, I think, for the rest of our careers.”

Calabrese made his comments following a virtual presentation on the same topic for the 2022 Association of Women in Rheumatology annual conference.

“At the minimum, we will be taking care of patients who have rheumatic diseases, particularly inflammatory rheumatic diseases, who develop long COVID, and we need to be able to evaluate them, treat them and know what is going on with this new disease, he said.

According to Calabrese, an estimated one in eight people will fail to recover from COVID-19 entirely within 10 to 12 weeks.

“For the most part, even after mild to moderate infection, patients may develop a variety of systems that remain medically unexplained after standard laboratory testing and after investigation,” Calabrese said. “There is no pathologic basis.”

Symptoms of long COVID are wide-reaching, but can include things like visceral pain, breathlessness and fatigue, he added.

“This is not the beginning of long COVID, it is the beginning of the beginning,” Calabrese said.

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Association of Women in Rheumatology National Conference

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