5 Senior Health Risks After COVID

5 Senior Health Risks After COVID

Scientists have been studying the wide variety of issues that seniors with COVID can face long after their initial infection is over. And while some problems that linger can make a lot of sense – such as feeling deep fatigue for a few weeks while your body regains its strength and fights of the remnants of the virus – others are much more serious and might catch you by surprise.

Whether you have had a bout or two with COVID or are one of the lucky ones who haven’t had to deal with the infection, it’s a good idea to have a senior life-saving alert system on hand. Though it can be easy to think that once COVID is over, it’s over, the studies reviewed here show that isn’t necessarily the case.

Long COVID is a very serious problem, and even for those who don’t have clear and lingering symptoms, there can be “silent” symptoms that could cause trouble down the line, which we’ll explore below. A medical alert pendant or watch can help ensure that if you face a serious problem in the aftermath of COVID – or develop COVID for the first time – help is right at your fingertips.

1.      Blood Clots and Other Circulation Issues

The suspected connection between COVID and a higher risk of blood clots was established very early in the pandemic, but now scientists have found a definitive link. A study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed the medical data of over 48 million people in the National Health System of Great Britain. The study looked at data from 2020. Of the 1.4 million cases of COVID discovered in the data, scientists found that 10,500 of those individuals developed problems related to blood clots.1

In the first week of COVID, the infection causes a 22 times higher risk of arterial blood clots. These are the blood clots that can lead to heart attack or stroke. There is a 33 times higher risk of venous blood clots, those that lead to deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Over time, the risk diminished but still remained elevated. For arterial blood clots, the risk dropped to over three times higher than someone who didn’t have the virus, and the risk of venous blood clots remained eight times higher. Almost one year later, the risk of a blood clot was still 1.8 times higher for those who had recovered from a COVID infection.

But what does that mean in real-world numbers? It translates to an additional 7,200 heart attacks or strokes and an additional 3,500 pulmonary embolisms or other vein-related issues per year.

Being hospitalized for COVID or being Black or Asian seemed to increase the risk. And while blood clots are an increased risk with any sort of infection, including shingles or flu, the risk is higher for those who have had COVID.2

Keep in mind that blood clots and the heart attacks and strokes that can happen as a result come on with no warning. That can make them not only very scary, but also very dangerous, because if something does happen, every second counts to ensure the best possible outcome. That’s where a medical alert system can come in handy. No matter where you are, in your home or on the go, you can press the emergency alarm button at any time, day or night, and get help right away. That can lessen the time it takes for emergency services to get to you and that can lead to a much better outcome in the event of stroke, pulmonary embolism, or other health issue.

2.      Neurological Problems

The most common neurological problem for those who have had COVID tends to be “brain fog.” This is especially pronounced with Long COVID but it’s often present during the initial infection too. A study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine looked at not only brain fog but other neurological symptoms as well, such as headaches, decreased concentration, insomnia, and problems with coordination.

While these symptoms were expected during a COVID infection, the study looked at how people felt at three months and six months post-infection. Not surprisingly, 80% of those who had just recovered from COVID said that they had neurological symptoms that affected their quality of life, such as headaches and fatigue. But at the six-month point, two-thirds of all participants still had neurological symptoms. The most common issues were decreased concentration and impaired memory.

Another interesting aspect of the study was finding that almost one in every 10 participants had neurological symptoms not usually associated with COVID, including tremor and difficulty with balancing. That suggests that there are symptoms of COVID that we haven’t yet fully identified.3

While it’s always a good idea to use medical alert wireless technology to keep you safe and secure, it becomes especially important when you consider that some lingering effects of COVID can include things you might not expect, like trouble with balance or coordination. Before you feel any symptoms like this, make a point of having a medical alert bracelet or other button alarm at your disposal. You want to be able to press the button at any time you might feel strange symptoms. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

3.      Cardiovascular Issues

Anything that affects the respiratory system has the possibility of affecting the cardiovascular system as well, and that’s one of the big dangers of COVID. A study in March 2020 out of China reported heart damage in almost 28% of patients hospitalized with COVID. That might be attributed to myocarditis, or inflammation in the heart, which has been seen in many COVID patients. That problem can lead to heart arrhythmias and heart failure.4

Those most at risk for heart problems from COVID are seniors who have chronic medical conditions unrelated to COVID. And while you might think that those who are hospitalized are at greatest risk, an analysis of VA patients in Nature Medicine found that the risks of heart problems were present even if a senior had a mild case of COVID that they managed at home.5

The cardiovascular problems caused by COVID can lead to a life-long increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other adverse events. It’s incredibly important to keep your doctor informed of any COVID infection, even if you were able to handle it at home, including any symptoms that linger after the infection is over.

And remember: lingering problems from COVID can appear at a moment’s notice. The importance of a medical alert for seniors can’t be stressed enough! That is especially true for a medical alert system with fall detection, as it provides an extra layer of protection that can automatically send an alert to the monitoring center on your behalf if you suffer a fall.

4.      Problems with the Nervous System

The nervous system can be affected in a wide variety of ways by a COVID infection. In addition to the difficulties with concentration and memory that we mentioned earlier, you might also experience muscle pain or joint pain, fluctuating heart rate, issues with body temperature regulation, problems with sleeping (either insomnia or sleeping too much), an inability to exercise, and feeling post-exertion malaise, or a serious level of fatigue after even mild exercise. Scientists don’t know why some people are affected very strongly by these symptoms, why they tend to linger, and why others aren’t affected at all.6

That’s why it’s important to always tell your doctor about what is happening with your health, even if it seems unrelated to COVID. You might be dealing with a symptom that mimics that of something else, or a symptom that you simply attribute to “getting older” when that’s really not the case.

5.      Organ Damage

COVID can damage the body in many ways – especially the lungs. COVID is primarily a disease of the respiratory system. Some might have shortness of breath as their most severe symptom, while others might need the help of a ventilator to breathe. Scarring and permanent dysfunction of the lungs can invite other infections as well, such as pneumonia. And the damage to the lungs can lead to getting less oxygen throughout the body, which can then lead to a wealth of other problems, from cognitive impairment to seizures.7

But this isn’t the only problem those with COVID can face in the aftermath. COVID tends to spark inflammation in the body, and that inflammation can damage the heart, kidneys, brain, and even the skin. The inflammation can lower the efficacy of the immune system, leaving you more prone to other infections. Organ damage can occur even with a short, mild COVID infection.

All of these points about post-COVID problems can be frightening. The best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you is to cover all the bases – take care of yourself as well as you can, talk to your doctor on a regular basis, keep track of any symptoms you might be feeling, and get some security and peace of mind with an affordable personal emergency response system that will allow you to reach out for help at a moment’s notice. Alert1 wishes you abundant health and safety!