Chavez Adams, an otherwise healthy, 29-year-old lawyer, overcame a mild bout of COVID-19.
Or so he thought.
After a two-week quarantine, Chavez thought he was in the clear, but the battle was far from over.
A newlywed, Chavez began experiencing fever and chills – symptoms that sent him scurrying to an urgent care facility.
Once there, doctors told Chavez about distinctive hazy patches on his lungs, presumably a result of his battle with COVID-19.
An elevated heart rate, along with the alarming discovery on his lungs, landed Chavez back in the hospital, where he went into cardiogenic shock, a rare but often fatal condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood.
After implanting an Impella CP heart pump into Chavez, his heart eventually returned to normal function, and four days later, sans the pump, he returned home to his wife, Ashlea.
“Today, I’m back to work and I have an active lifestyle,” a relieved Chavez stated.
Chavez is among many suffering from post-COVID syndrome – or “Long COVID,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.
“This is a phenomenon that is really quite real and quite extensive,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in a recently published interview.
More than 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and more than 437,000 have died. Some who have recovered face the possibility of battling “Long COVID,” while others may never fully recover.
“There’s still so much we don’t know about COVID-19’s negative impact on heart health, and there are many studies underway to understand the long-term consequences on the heart better,” Chavez noted in an email.
Reports indicate that a growing number of studies have suggested many COVID-19 survivors experience some heart damage, even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease and weren’t sick enough to be hospitalized. Nearly one-fourth of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have been diagnosed with cardiovascular complications.
This has been shown to contribute to roughly 40 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths.
“My life has definitely changed since having COVID, being that it has so many unknowns about it, and it’s dependent upon the person,” offered Tamron Little, a COVID-19 survivor and cancer survivor advocate at The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.
“It’s very scary. I believe that’s where the anxiety comes into play,” Little added.
“It’s been almost six months since I had COVID, and I’m still trying to get back to feeling normal. It really makes you grateful to be alive, given the people who didn’t make it. I’ve noticed that I am even more careful when I’m out in public.
“I wash my hands constantly. I wash them so much until they peel. I also took advantage of the opportunity and got the vaccine. I will be going for my second dose next week.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is actively working on learning more about the whole range of short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19.
“As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19, and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health,” CDC officials noted on its website.
While most persons with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from acute illness, CDC officials continued.
Even people who are not hospitalized and who have a mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms.
Multi-year studies are underway to investigate further.
The CDC said it continues to work to identify how common these symptoms are, who is most likely to get them, and whether these symptoms eventually resolve.
“I have been to my primary care physician due to increased anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve been to a cardiologist and gotten numerous tests done, and I’ve been to my pulmonologist as well to check my lung capacity,” Little said.
“COVID has so many post-recovery symptoms that people really don’t discuss, such as high anxiety, brain fog, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath. I experienced all those symptoms post COVID. I’m currently working through anxiety.”