SALT LAKE CITY — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, adding more people to the group of "COVID-19 Long Haulers." Long-haulers deal with new or lingering symptoms months after contracting the virus.
It is hard to know who will experience long-term impacts from COVID-19, according to Dr. Kevin Shah, an assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Utah.
“What has been challenging with taking care of these patients from the cardiovascular perspective is the spectrum of severity in terms of what problems they still have after the fact does not always reflect their illness with COVID-19,” he said.
New research from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine suggests an existing drug, ivabradine, may help some people suffering from long COVID. The study shows that people who suffer from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) saw a positive impact one month after beginning the heart failure drug. Many people who develop COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms also develop POTS, Dr. Shah said.
In June, Syracuse resident William Mosley was diagnosed with COVID-19. Months later, he still doesn’t have his sense of taste or smell back and is dealing with cognitive issues, he said.
“The other day I went to Walmart, which is two miles away. I got lost trying to find my car. In the Walmart parking lot. It took me a half-hour to find my car,” he said.
It’s been tough, he said, as he spoke about leaving his job at the airport.
“I had to retire early," he said. "I am 65 now. I was going to work to 66, but I tell you, it changes you,” he said.
Oftentimes, Mosley turns to the "Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers" Facebook page to see the latest research and get advice on what is helping others.
It is nice to see more doctors becoming knowledgeable about long-hauler symptoms and research being done, Mosley said.
“We just pray that one day we are all going to be healed,” he said.
The University of Utah is planning to open a post-COVID clinic, Dr. Shah said.
“There is going to be a clinic that is dedicated toward their care — a multidisciplinary clinic — and the idea there would be to really figure out which healthcare team members can best some of these patients with the specific issues they are dealing with,” he said.
FOX 13 News will update this story as more information becomes available about the clinic’s opening date.