Women under 50 are at highest risk of long Covid – the symptoms you need to know

WOMEN under 50 are at higher risk of long Covid – suffering from fatigue, breathlessness, anxiety and brain fog.

A number of studies found women had worse long-term outcomes after being in hospital with coronavirus, detailing symptoms to look out for.

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In one study, some 11 months on from being infected, 55 per cent of 327 patients said they didn’t feel fully recovered after being struck down with the disease.

Almost all of them, 93 per cent, are still struggling with symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness.

They were twice as likely to report worse fatigue, seven times more likely to be more breathless and were more likely to have worsening difficulties or a new disability.

The former patients also suffered with memory, mobility and communication issues, and also vision, hearing and self-care than men of the same age after their acute Covid-19 illness.

Dr Janet Scott, from the University of Glasgow-MRC Centre for Virus Research, lead author of the study, said: "Our research shows that survivors of Covid-19 experienced long-term symptoms, including a new disability, increased breathlessness, and a reduced quality of life.

"These findings were present even in young, previously healthy working age adults, and were most common in younger females.

"The fact that women under the age of 50 are the group with the worst outcomes could have profound implications for pandemic policy decision, as well as vaccination strategy."


It comes as more research backs up the theory women suffer more than men in the aftermath of coronavirus.

The UK-wide study, led by the National Institute for Health Research in Leicester, found the majority of patients hospitalised with Covid haven’t recovered five months on.

The ten most common symptoms reported were: muscle pain, fatigue, physical slowing down, impaired sleep quality, joint pain or swelling, limb weakness, breathlessness, pain, short-term memory loss, and slowed thinking.

People with worse and more persistent long Covid symptoms tended to be middle-aged, white, women.

Researchers found that each participant had an average of nine persistent symptoms. 

Professor Chris Brightling, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Leicester and chief investigator for the PHOSP-Covid study, said: “While the profile of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is disproportionately male and from an ethnic minority background, our study finds that those who have the most severe prolonged symptoms tend to be white women aged approximately 40 to 60 who have at least two long term health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.”

The fact that women under the age of 50 are the group with the worst outcomes could have profound implications for pandemic policy decision, as well as vaccination strategy.

The research also uncovered a potential biological factor behind some post-Covid symptoms.

Professor Louise Wain, GSK/British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research at the University of Leicester and co-investigator for the PHOSP-Covid study, said: “When we looked at the symptom severity of patients five months after they were discharged from hospital, we found that in all but the mildest cases of persistent post-Covid symptoms, levels of a chemical called C-reactive protein [CRP], which is associated with inflammation, were elevated. 

“From previous studies, it is known that systemic inflammation is associated with poor recovery from illnesses across the disease spectrum.

"We also know that autoimmunity, where the body has an immune response to its own healthy cells and organs, is more common in middle-aged women.

"This may explain why post-Covid syndrome seems to be more prevalent in this group, but further investigation is needed to fully understand the processes.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know long Covid can have a lasting and debilitating impact on the lives of those affected and I’m determined to improve the care we can provide.

“Studies like this help us to rapidly build our understanding of the impact of the condition and we are working to develop new research so we can support and treat people. 

“We are learning more about long Covid all the time and have given £20 million research funding to support innovative projects, with clinics established across the country to help improve the treatment available.”



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