In a new study conducted by clinical researchers at the University of York, Hull York Medical school (HYMS), and the Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, investigators found that women with mild inflammation when battling COVID-19 could be more likely to experience symptoms of long Covid. The reported symptoms included muscle ache, low mood, and anxiety.
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Signs of long Covid were observed after the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, causing researchers to search for answers. Researchers say that this new study identifies a link between inflammation and persistent long Covid symptoms in women, highlighting possible long-term effects of the illness.
The researchers analyzed 144 individuals who had previously had COVID-19 to explore the possibilities to further research on the causes of continuing symptoms in long Covid. The press release noted that among the participants, a high number of survivors experienced lingering symptoms of fatigue, breathlessness, and sleep disturbance — all occurring 3 months following recovery.
To learn more, the researchers assessed blood samples from the individuals at the peak of their COVID-19 infection. The press release noted that the researchers found that women had the highest rates of lingering symptoms.
The study authors noted that the blood samples revealed elevated biomarkers that were a clear warning that inflammation was present within the body, along with interleukin 6, C-reactive protein, troponin-T, and ferritin.
“The findings of this explorative study align with other research showing elevated inflammatory biomarkers in mood disorders, anxiety disorders and fibromyalgia,” said Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, MD, MedSci, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Department of Health Sciences and Hull York Medical School, University of York, in a press release. "Further research is needed to confirm these findings. The gender aspect is a relevant finding for clinical interpretation. It shows there is an urgent need for large research studies exploring gender-specific aspects of low-grade inflammation in long COVID and in mental health conditions.”
According to the study authors, the results from the analysis suggest that inflammation in the acute phase of infection could contribute to physical and mental symptoms of long Covid.
“This study is a hypothesis-generating study to inform further research into persistent symptoms in long Covid,” said Mike Crooks, Professor in respiratory medicine at HYMS, Hull University, in a press release. "It provides evidence of the potential benefits of an acute phase assessment of biomarkers to predict outcomes following acute COVID-19, which warrants further investigation. The close alignment of clinical care and research is essential to support evidence-based practice going forward.”
Long COVID in women may be linked to inflammation levels at peak of infection, new research suggests. EurekAlert!. News release. November 7, 2023. Accessed November 8, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1007258.