Women with Long COVID, a set of symptoms that persist for months beyond the initial phase of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, exhibit more symptoms than males with the syndrome, according to a study.
The research, published in the Journal of Women's Health, found that women were statistically significantly more likely to experience difficulty swallowing, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations at long-term follow-up compared to men.
Long-COVID-syndrome is defined as persistent symptoms extending beyond 12 weeks after the initial symptoms of acute infection.
The researchers from the University of Parma, and University-Hospital of Parma, Italy, enrolled 223 patients (89 women and 134 men) who were infected by SARS-CoV-2.
They found that 91 per cent of patients, who were followed up for five months on average, continued to experience COVID-19 symptoms.
Breathlessness was the most common symptoms of long COVID-19, followed by fatigue. Females were more symptomatic than males, they said.
Women were significantly more likely than males to report dyspnea, weakness, thoracic pain, palpitations, and sleep disturbance but not myalgia and cough, the researchers said.
"Sex was found to be an important determinant of Long-COVID-19 syndrome because it is a significant predictor of persistent symptoms in women, such as dyspnea, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations," the researchers said.
"Our results suggest the need for long-term follow-up of these patients from a sex perspective to implement early preventive and personalised therapeutic strategies," they said.
The researchers noted that sex differences have been demonstrated in the acute phase of COVID-19.
Women were found to be less prone to develop a severe disease than men, but few studies have assessed sex-differences in Long-COVID syndrome, they said.
"Long-term longitudinal studies are needed to fully understand the sex-related pathophysiology of the symptoms and the effects of pharmacological treatment related to Long COVID-19," the authors of the study noted.
"These studies will be crucial to understanding the natural trajectory of Long COVID-19 in order to implement targeted treatment strategies and to prevent bias in treating males and females," they added.