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Long Covid could be down to a poor lifestyle

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A healthy lifestyle dramatically reduces the risk of long Covid.

More than a third of all cases would never have happened if the sufferers had adopted a series of healthy lifestyle habits before they had the infection, say researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

People who live healthily halve their chances of suffering from long Covid, which affects between 20 and 40 percent of people who tested positive, and up to 70 percent who had emergency hospital care.

The researchers tracked the pre-Covid lifestyle habits of 32,249 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study; 1,981 of them later reported a Covid infection, and, of these, 871 suffered from post-Covid-19 condition (PCC), or long Covid.

But those who followed five of six healthy lifestyle habits were 49 percent less likely to have had long-Covid compared to those who didn’t adopt any of them, the researchers said.  The factors—which have been recognised as being key to preventing inflammation—are:

  • a BMI (body mass index) of between 18.5 and 24.9 (calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared)
  • not smoking
  • doing at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week
  • drinking moderately, up to one glass of wine a day
  • eating a healthy diet (fresh vegetables and fruit, no processed food)
  • sleeping between seven and nine hours a night.

Overall, 36 percent of cases of long Covid would never have happened if people had followed five of the six habits, the researchers calculated.

JAMA Internal Medicine, 2023; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.6555
Article Topics: Healthy lifestyle, Long Covid
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