By Mark Waghorn via SWNS
Catching COVID-19 increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to new research.
Infected patients were more likely to be diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses in the next three months.
Cardiovascular disease cases rise six times - and diabetes rates have almost doubled. A healthy diet and exercise could be protective, scientists say.
The findings are based on medical records of more than 850,000 individuals across the UK - 428,000 COVID-19 patients and the same number of controls.
They were matched by age, sex and family practice and tracked from the peak of the first wave in April 2020 until January 2022.
Co-author Professor Ajay Shah, of King's College London, said: "It's clear particular vigilance is required for at least the first three months after COVID-19."
COVID-19 patients had 81 per cent more diagnoses of diabetes in the first four weeks after contracting the virus. Risk remained 27 percent higher for another eight weeks.
COVID-19 was also associated with a six-fold increase in cardiovascular diseases - mainly due to the development of blood clots in the lungs and irregular heartbeats.
The risk began to decline five weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels or lower within 12 weeks to one year.
The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, identified no long-term increase in incidence for either condition.
Scientists are increasingly recognizing COVID-19 as a multi-system condition that can cause disease throughout the body - likely by triggering inflammation.
Prof Shah said: "The information provided by this very large population-based study on the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on development of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes will be extremely valuable to doctors managing the millions of people who have had Covid-19 by now.
"It's clear particular vigilance is required for at least the first three months after COVID-19."
The virus has also been linked with increasing the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Lead author Dr. Emma Rezel-Potts, also from KCL, added: "Use of a large, national database of electronic health records from primary care has enabled us to characterize the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus during the acute and longer-term phases following COVID-19 infection.
"Whilst it is in the first four weeks that COVID-19 patients are most at risk of these outcomes, the risk of diabetes mellitus remains increased for at least 12 weeks.
"Clinical and public health interventions focusing on reducing diabetes risk among those recovering from COVID-19 over the longer term may be very beneficial."
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