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Long Covid symptoms and diagnosis in primary care: A cohort study using structured and unstructured data in The Health Improvement Network primary care database

Shah, AD; Subramanian, A; Lewis, J; Dhalla, S; Ford, E; Haroon, S; Kuan, V; (2023) Long Covid symptoms and diagnosis in primary care: A cohort study using structured and unstructured data in The Health Improvement Network primary care database. PLoS ONE , 18 (9) , Article e0290583. 10.1371/journal.pone.0290583. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Long Covid is a widely recognised consequence of COVID-19 infection, but little is known about the burden of symptoms that patients present with in primary care, as these are typically recorded only in free text clinical notes. AIMS: To compare symptoms in patients with and without a history of COVID-19, and investigate symptoms associated with a Long Covid diagnosis. METHODS: We used primary care electronic health record data until the end of December 2020 from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a Cegedim database. We included adults registered with participating practices in England, Scotland or Wales. We extracted information about 89 symptoms and 'Long Covid' diagnoses from free text using natural language processing. We calculated hazard ratios (adjusted for age, sex, baseline medical conditions and prior symptoms) for each symptom from 12 weeks after the COVID-19 diagnosis. RESULTS: We compared 11,015 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 18,098 unexposed controls. Only 20% of symptom records were coded, with 80% in free text. A wide range of symptoms were associated with COVID-19 at least 12 weeks post-infection, with strongest associations for fatigue (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 3.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.87, 4.17), shortness of breath (aHR 2.89, 95% CI 2.48, 3.36), palpitations (aHR 2.59, 95% CI 1.86, 3.60), and phlegm (aHR 2.43, 95% CI 1.65, 3.59). However, a limited subset of symptoms were recorded within 7 days prior to a Long Covid diagnosis in more than 20% of cases: shortness of breath, chest pain, pain, fatigue, cough, and anxiety / depression. CONCLUSIONS: Numerous symptoms are reported to primary care at least 12 weeks after COVID-19 infection, but only a subset are commonly associated with a GP diagnosis of Long Covid.

Type: Article
Title: Long Covid symptoms and diagnosis in primary care: A cohort study using structured and unstructured data in The Health Improvement Network primary care database
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0290583
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0290583
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2023 Shah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Adult, Humans, Chest Pain, Cohort Studies, COVID-19, COVID-19 Testing, Dyspnea, Fatigue, Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome, Primary Health Care, Male, Female
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > Clinical Epidemiology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10178673
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