UNM to take part in national studies on ‘long COVID’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Since the pandemic began, New Mexico has reported a total of 271,898 COVID-19 cases. While many have recovered, doctors say some patients aren’t back to full health even several weeks after their diagnosis.

"They may be confused, there’s the comment of ‘brain fog,’ where they can’t find words," said Dr. Michelle Harkins, the division chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at UNM. "They may be short of breath for months later, they may have a tingling sensation in their body."

Doctors at the UNM Health Sciences Center are part of two national studies trying to find out who gets "long COVID" and why some are more vulnerable to it. One study will focus on adults, and another will focus on children.

"We’re going to follow them up to four years to learn about symptoms that happen later on after they recover from that acute phase of infection," said Hengameh Raissy with the Department of Pediatrics.

Researchers also want to find out if having long COVID could increase the risk of chronic heart or brain disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health, 10 to 30% of those who had COVID-19 will experience having some symptoms last at least one month.

The UNM study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is looking to enroll thousands of patients. UNM expects to enroll 200 adults and 100 children.