People who survived severe Covid-19 infections are more than twice at risk of dying over the following year, compared with those who experience mild or moderate disease or remain uninfected, finds a study.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, showed that the increased risk of death was greater for patients who are under 65.
Researchers at the University of Florida, in the US, found that severe Covid-19 patients aged under 65 demonstrated a 233 per cent increased chance of dying, compared with the uninfected.
This was larger than the increased chance of dying experienced by severe Covid-19 patients aged over 65, compared with the uninfected. As these deaths frequently occurred long after the initial infection had passed, they may never have been linked to Covid-19 by the patients' families or doctors.
Moreover, 80 per cent deaths that occurred in severe Covid-19 survivors were not linked with common complications from the disease, such as respiratory or cardiovascular issues. This suggests that the patients had experienced an overall decline in their health that left them vulnerable to various ailments, the researchers said.
Mild or moderate Covid-19 patients did not have a significantly increased mortality risk compared with the uninfected, highlighting the importance of reducing the chances of severe disease through vaccination.
"Since we now know that there is a substantial risk of dying from what would likely be considered to be an unrecognised complication of Covid-19, we need to be even more vigilant in decreasing severe episodes of Covid-19,a said lead author Prof Arch Mainous of the University of Florida.
"Taking your chances and hoping for successful treatment in the hospital doesn't convey the full picture of the impact of Covid-19. Our recommendation at this point is to use preventive measures, such as vaccination, to prevent severe episodes of Covid-19."
For the study, the team tracked electronic health records of 13,638 patients who underwent a PCR test for Covid-19, with 178 patients experiencing severe Covid-19, 246 mild or moderate Covid-19 and the rest testing negative. All patients included in the study recovered from the disease, and the researchers tracked their outcomes over the next 12 months.
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