KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The results of a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the way COVID-19 will continue to impact millions of Americans for years to come.

The study, released Tuesday, found one in five adults under the age of 65 have a health condition that may be considered long COVID-19.

That increases to 25% for people over the age of 65 who are suffering from long COVID-19 symptoms, which are reported more than four weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The CDC analyzed electronic health records from March 2020 to November 2021 to come to the conclusion.

It’s an issue doctors at the University of Kansas Health System are concerned to see.

“We have to deal with that on a long-term basis as a public and a healthcare system, and we’re being challenged already by the number of people who have long COVID,” Dr. Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said during a medical update Wednesday morning.

The health system already has a long COVID-19 clinic set up to specifically deal with patients who report symptoms long after they no longer have the acute form of the virus. But doctors warn that’s not going to be enough if millions of people worldwide need treatment.

“It’s going to be a significant strain or issue for the healthcare system, the healthcare delivery system moving forward. It’s going to be a significant strain for those individual people moving forward because we know about long COVID. We know how significant it can impact people’s quality of life on a daily basis, whether it’s being with their children, being with family members or even going to work, so moving forward it’s certainly going to be an important aspect of healthcare, especially in that outpatient setting,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the Health System, said.

Adults under the age of 65 who are experiencing long COVID-19 most often report symptoms and conditions that fall into one of 26 categories, according to the CDC’s analysis. Most frequently they are conditions that affect multiple systems, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, as well as psychiatric signs and symptoms. 

Acute pulmonary embolism and respiratory issues are the most common conditions of all long COVID-19 patients, according to the study.

The authors of the analysis said the findings are consistent with those from several large studies. They also pointed out that follow-up care for these patients will impact their financial and economic well-being, and may also affect a person’s ability to work.

Stites warned the analysis ended before the height of the delta and omicron variants swept through much of the country, but he said he expects to see the same results when those two variants are included.

The entire analysis by the CDC is available online and is free for anyone to read.