What we know so far about the long-term health effects of COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We're continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and its lasting effects.

While patients may no longer have the virus, the damage left behind can last for much longer.

Missouri City Council Member Jeffrey L. Boney tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March.

"Ended up coughing up blood two days after that, and that's how I ended up in the ICU," said Boney.

"They took a CT scan and found I had pneumonia in both of my lungs. I also had ailments on various organs. My heart function was down to 30 percent. I was approaching heart failure, my liver and kidneys were impacted," said Boney.

Doctors also found a large blood clot in one of his lungs, something he still has four months later.

"It can affect the heart. It can affect the kidneys. It can affect the brain," said Dr. William Zoghbi, chair of the department of cardiology at Houston Methodist.

Zoghbi has been studying the effects of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

He said the virus can cause blood clots, but as far as how that impacts the body, it depends on where the clot goes.

"If the small ones go to the brain, (it can cause a) stroke or other neurological deficits," Zoghbi said.

If the clot goes to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. In addition to that, Zoghbi said the virus can also simulate a heart attack on the muscle by causing inflammation.

The sicker the patient, the greater the chance there is damage to the heart.

"There is a spectrum of the disease, and also, there is a spectrum of morbidity. Individuals may be left with a lasting effect on their lung, on their heart, or on their brain," Zoghbi said.

As for Jeffrey, he recently went to the doctor and received some good news.

"The good news from the doctor, the clot had dissolved significantly. It was a very, very massive clot in my right lung," said Boney.

Boney said he's continuing his road to recovery.

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