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New Mayo Clinic study finds more women are COVID 'long haulers'

Researchers suspect the findings are due to differences in immune response between men and women.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A study from Mayo Clinic has new findings about patients with "post-COVID syndrome", frequently referred to as COVID "long haulers." It's when people have lingering symptoms of COVID-19 for months, even more than a year, after getting infected. 

A study published Monday morning in Mayo Clinic Proceedings finds more women have it than men.

The findings are early, from just the first 108 patients in Mayo's post-COVID care clinic. But it found 75% of people in the study with post-COVID were women.

Researchers say there's a lot more studying to do, but the high percentage could have something to do with the difference in immune response between the two genders. Women typically have a more "enhanced" immune response.

The researchers said that active immune response generally helps get them through the initial, or acute, COVID infection better than men, making them more likely to stay out of the hospital. But they think that immune response then stays heightened.

"I think women can really handle the acute COVID probably better than men, their immune system can," said Dr. Ryan Hurt, head of Mayo's post-COVID research and clinical efforts. "But that really pronounced immune response may also linger on longer than it should."

Women also had different lingering symptoms than men, the study found. Women were more likely to have fatigue and muscle pain months after their COVID infection. Men mainly had shortness of breath. 

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