Almost four years after it was first reported, the likely cause of long Covid has been identified. Pinpointing the cause of the debilitating condition could now lead to new treatments.
Long Covid is a life-changing condition that causes chronic fatigue, breathlessness, ‘brain fog’, anxiety and stress, leading to significant impact on our daily life. Around 1.9 million Brits suffer from it and around 1 in 20 people who contract Covid-19 go on to develop long Covid. Concerningly, 41% of long Covid patients report serious health issues lasting at least two years. There are currently no diagnostic tests and few therapeutic solutions for affected patients.
Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, (LML) says: ‘It has long been suspected that immune dysfunction underlines long Covid, and now research has determined the cause is likely to be increased activation of the “complement system”. The complement system is major part of the body’s immune defences that normally helps to clear infections and clean up damaged cells. Ironically, in long Covid cases, it is causing the problems.
‘A new report, published in Science last week, found patients experiencing long Covid symptoms exhibited changes to their blood serum proteins. These changes indicated that the complement system was abnormally activated, altering blood coagulation and causing tissue injury. Medical professionals call this “thrombo-inflammation”.
‘Together with changes at a cellular level to blood platelets, these results show potential new biomarkers for diagnosis of long Covid and will inform research for future treatments.
‘Already, “off-the-shelf” blood tests are available that can easily identify inflammation in the body and could be used to indicate the likelihood of long Covid. A heart health profile test measures “C-Reactive protein” (CRP) that indicates inflammatory burden and cardiovascular risk. It is also an excellent indicator of high cholesterol and other issues.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s Heart Health Profile test is already widely used to identify a number of conditions. The simple, finger-prick blood test indicates risks to heart health and includes a full cholesterol profile, as well as testing for inflammation. It also tests for diabetes, showing how well the body is controlling blood sugar.
‘The Heart Health Profile test can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores. For full details see: https://www.londonmedicallaboratory.com/product/heart-health-profile