Long-Hauler Patient: "I would get like heart palpitations, short of breath, pain, and looking at heart rate, one time I went up to 181 beats a minute."By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Last summer, Jennifer Gorzock got COVID-19.

She thought she lucked out with only mild symptoms.

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“I did fairly well with the infection. I never ran a fever. It was worse than a cold, but for the most part, I was completely managed at home. I didn’t require any hospitalization,” she said.

But, just two weeks after recovering, she developed severe, week-long headaches.

Then, weeks later, her heart began to bother her.

“I would get like heart palpitations, short of breath, pain, and looking at heart rate, one time I went up to 181 beats a minute,” she said.

It got so bad, she had to be admitted to the hospital.

“They said we are starting to see a post-COVID, but it is so new that we do not know if this is common,” Gorzock said.

Even now, months later, she continues to have episodes of her heart racing.

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For people like Gorzock, who have had persistent symptoms more than 12 weeks after their illness with COVID, there’s a new “long-haulers clinic” in Wexford and at other sites where different types of doctors can look into their symptoms.

“Cardiology, psychiatry, neurology, and primary care,” says AHN Allegheny Clinic internist Dr. Christopher Pastor. “We’ve seen persistent shortness of breath, cough, persistent loss of taste and smell, chest discomfort, depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, too.”

Why long-haul COVID happens is still a mystery.

“We don’t know why for sure, but the thoughts are the immune system is still not recovered back to where it was pre-COVID. There’s even thoughts that the virus is still lingering in undetectable levels,” Dr. Pastor said.

With help from her cardiologist, Gorzock now has appointments and tests lined up at the new clinic in June.

“All the symptoms are so random — heart problems, memory function, mental fog, fatigue, muscle aches and pains,” she said.

Even if the tests don’t turn up anything, she believes just having this clinic geared specifically for long-haulers is a step in the right direction.

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“You’re still not well, and we just don’t know why. So this clinic, I feel, will be just so helpful to help patients maybe understand what’s going on,” Gorzock said.