The CDC term "post-COVID conditions" includes the wide range of physical and emotional sequelae affecting many patients for ≥4 weeks post-infection.
The CDC uses the term “Post-COVID conditions” to encompass the wide range of physical and mental health consequences experienced by some patients for 4 weeks or more after infection with SARS-CoV-2.
CDC emphasizes that symptoms from this array can develop in patients who had initial mild and even asymptomatic acute infection and in young people as well as in older adults with higher-risk profiles.
The slides here highlight the information available at this early stage of the post-crisis pandemic era in the US. The CDC states: "Based on current information, many post-COVID conditions can be managed by primary care providers..." That topic will be covered next.
Asymptomatic, Mild, Severe – it Doesn’t Matter. Post-COVID conditions can occur in patients who had varying degrees of illness during acute infection, including mild or asymptomatic infections. Medical/research communities are still learning about these post-acute symptoms and clinical findings.
Remember: Testing was Inadequate. Some patients with post-COVID conditions will not have had positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 as a result of lack of testing/inaccurate testing during acute period, waning antibody levels, false-negative antibody testing during follow up.
Many Symptoms, Many Names. Post-COVID conditions are being referred to by a wide range of names, by patients, health care professionals, and the media. The list above is no exhaustive.
“Lack of Return to a Usual State of Health.” In the absence of standard case definitions, CDC notes that, in the broadest sense, a post-COVID condition reflects a lack of return to a usual state of health following acute COVID-19 illness.”
Is it a Post-COVID Condition or Something Else? Consider alternative reasons for symptoms, eg, other diagnoses, unmasking of a pre-existing illness, even reinfection with COVID-19.
NOTE: For clinicians considering whether new symptoms could be explained by reinfection, please refer to the CDC guidance on investigating suspected reinfection.
Multiorgan System Effects. Multiorgan effects are documented in most body systems including: Cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, dermatologic, neurologic, psychiatric. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) & autoimmune conditions also occur.
Longer Effects of Treatment/Hospitalization for COVID-19. Post-COVID conditions can include effects similar to those from inpatient treatment for other respiratory conditions. NOTE: Even though effects of hospitalization may
not be unique to COVID-19, they are considered post-COVID conditions if they
occur after a documented SARS-CoV-2 infection and persist >4 wks.
"Long COVID." The term “long COVID” is often used by patient advocacy
groups to identify the range of symptoms that have been reported. A heterogenous category, the effects can overlap with multiorgan complications
or with effects of treatment or hospitalization. NOTE: Long COVID can include patients who have clinically important but poorly understood symptoms that can be persistent or intermittent after initial acute COVID infection.
Risk Factor Research, Old & Young Alike. Research is ongoing to globally assess post-COVID conditions. While older adults and those with comorbid conditions may be at higher risk for post-infection sequelae, please NOTE: Young people, often physically fit before infection, have also reported symptoms lasting several months after acute illness.
A Work in Progress. Post-acute COVID care clinics are being established at medical centers across the US. Multidisciplinary teams will provide a comprehensive and coordinated treatment approach to COVID-19 aftercare. Survivor support groups are connecting people and sharing resources with survivors and others affected by COVID-19. Multiyear studies will be crucial to understanding post-COVID conditions.