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Oklahoma researchers study incomplete COVID recoveries while 'long-haulers' adjust to new lives

Posted at 7:07 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 23:11:16-04

TULSA, Okla. — It only takes one positive test to change a life forever.

Ashley Zimmerman survived COVID-19, and she is now adapting to its long-term effects.

The surprising part about Zimmerman’s COVID infection is she was not sick, at first. Two months later, a rare condition hit called POTS and researchers are still trying to figure it out.

READ MORE: POTS: the chronic, incurable condition some COVID patients are developing

“I noticed I felt kind of off. I didn't feel bad, but I didn't feel right. I checked my heart rate, and it was 156,” Zimmerman said.

A normal rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Her rapid heart was the first sign of POTS.

Researchers are still studying COVID’s long term complications. While they do, many stress the importance of vaccinating.

“You do not want to get COVID, that’s the main thing. The way to not get COVID is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Woody Jenkins, a Stillwater physician and COVID survivor.

He tested positive in December.

“I've continued to have shortness of breath and fatigue since that time,” Dr. Jenkins said.

While survivors hope to get back to their pre-COVID state of health, they also want their stories to serve as learning lessons.

“COVID can happen to anybody. It's angering also that people still act like it’s not a big deal,” Zimmerman said.

A team at the University of Oklahoma is studying the correlation between COVID-19 and the POTS condition. They said 5-10% of Oklahomans have developed the incurable disorder after contracting the coronavirus.

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