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Some Coronavirus Patients Find Recovery A Long And Punishing Climb
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United States of America (the)
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Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)
The commotion over COVID-19's direct impacts has largely drowned out alarm over its longer-term effects. But as more survivors emerge from intensive care units, a chorus of voices, many tweeting under #LongCovid, are clamoring to be heard.
"These people are not just suffering from a lung problem. They're suffering from problems with their heart, their kidneys, their liver and very, very much their brain. And that's going to pose a big problem for recovery for millions and millions of COVID survivors," said Dr. Wes Ely, an intensivist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Ely, who co-directs the Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship Center at VUMC, has seen COVID-19 patients arrive with delirium, confusion and other neurological symptoms.
"We think that the virus itself may be directly causing some of these neurologic problems," he said.
But COVID-19 might also be making a bad situation worse. Because any ailment that requires an intensive care unit probably disrupts the body's supply of energy, raw materials or oxygen — losses the brain cannot easily withstand.
"It also doesn't do well when you have blood clots in the brain's blood vessels, which is happening a lot in COVID," said Ely.
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