Those with Autoimmune Conditions Have Higher Long Covid Risk

May 5, 2023

In a study called “pre-existing conditions associated with post-acute sequelae of COVID-19” published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, researchers investigated which pre-existing conditions increase the risk of a person developing long COVID. They analyzed data from 1224 patients who participated in the COVID-19 study in Arizona called CoVHORT. 

The statistical analysis showed respiratory, gastrointestinal, and autoimmune conditions associated with the increased risk for long COVID. Regarding specific pre-existing conditions, the analysis indicated that asthma; chronic constipation; reflux; rheumatoid arthritis; seasonal allergies; and depression/anxiety were associated with long COVID.

Authors note that the CoVHORT study provided extensive data that allowed for analyzing many factors regarding study participants, e.g., demographics and pre-existing conditions.  However, the study also had some limitations; for example, a large portion of the data in the CoVHORT study is self-reported, which can bring in some biases regarding what patients remember and report. It is also possible that some symptoms reported by study participants following COVID-19 aren’t related to COVID but to pre-existing diseases. The authors also point out that to improve the study, the group of participants needs to be more diverse, which will allow for determining risk factors in different subgroups of patients. 

Identifications of patients with the highest risk of long COVID can help develop public health measures to inform those people about the risks and protect those individuals from infection.