Data obtained from millions of people across the United States has shown that, if you had COVID, many of your organs may be aging three or four years faster. Moreover, being infected multiple times may also aggravate the aging process, further emphasizing the importance of proper vaccination.
Science and other stuff to know
“You can start thinking about getting COVID as almost an accelerant to aging. The viral infection accelerates the aging process in people,” Ziyad Al-Aly, the director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at Washington University in St Louis and the chief of research and education service at Veterans Affairs St Louis Health Care System, said in an interview with ABC7. His statement is based on his studies where he gathered data from millions of people across the United States. He and his team investigated the effects of long COVID on the kidney, the brain, and the heart and discovered that they all followed a similar pattern.
According to Al-Aly, the outcomes suggested that organs aged three to four times faster in people who had survived COVID. “Almost by three to four years in the span of just one,” he told ABC7. “What we have seen is that people are losing about three to four percent kidney function in the year that follows that infection. That usually happens with aging. Three to four years of aging.”
Rapid aging was most dominant in people who were hospitalized due to COVID, but people with milder symptoms of the virus also exhibited faster aging of organs.
Michael Peluso, who was among the first in the country to launch long COVID research in April 2020, said one of the reasons for the speedy organ aging was that the virus persisted in the body, leading to inflammation and auto-immune issues.
While it seems like the worst of COVID might be behind us, it is clear that the world is still far from understanding the immediate and long-term effects of COVID on human health.
A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that almost one in five adults in the U.S. still struggled with at least one lingering symptom of the coronavirus, NYT reported. This shows the complexity of the issue at hand, and studies like Al-Aly’s could be the first step toward effectively dealing with the long-term effects of COVID.
However, as worrisome as the latest findings may seem, Al-Aly believes that the fast aging of organs caused by COVID may eventually cease.
“My hunch from the data and also my hope that this would really eventually flatten out and there are some early indications that this really may be the case that the risk or the kidney function decline really flattens out with time,” he told ABC7.
We are keeping our fingers crossed over that prediction.