Most COVID-19 patients have neurological symptoms

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe coronavirus of acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), continues to evolve, more information is being released on how the virus affects the human body .

Studies have shown that COVID-19 is not exclusively a respiratory disease, but can also affect the cardiovascular, digestive and nervous systems.

In a new study published in the journal JAMA Network, University of Pittsburgh researchers for the Global Consortium Study of Neurologic Dysfunction in COVID-19 found that neurological manifestations were widespread in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Patients also had a higher risk of hospital mortality.

The team found that 82 percent of COVID-19 patients in the hospital developed neurological complications and died six times more often. While most illnesses were mild to moderate, around half of the patients had altered brain function or structure, while around every fifth patient was in a coma.

COVID-19 and neurological manifestations

As the pandemic progressed, reports of accompanying neurological manifestations of COVID-19, including headache, anosmia or loss of smell, ageusia or loss of taste, and myalgia or muscle pain, have surfaced. In addition, neurological disorders such as encephalopathy, coma and stroke have been reported.

With limited information on the extent of neurological symptoms and manifestations in COVID-19 patients, the current study was designed to analyze the incidence of COVID-19 neurological manifestations in global cohorts of hospital patients and to identify possible risk factors associated with the occurrence associated with COVID-19 are these manifestations.

The study population came from two large consortia. The first is the Global Consortium Study on Neurological Dysfunction in COVID-19 (GCS-NeuroCOVID), a large multicenter cohort study designed to determine the incidence, severity, and clinical outcomes of neurological manifestations in COVID-19 patients. The team then derived study participants from the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Neuro-COVID Register (ENERGY), a prospective register created to track the incidence of neurological COVID-19 manifestations and their results after six and 12 years of age Months to evaluate.

In total, the study included 3,744 COVID-19 patients in hospital in 28 centers in 13 countries between March and October 2020.

Study results

The study results showed that headache was the most common self-reported symptom in all cohorts, averaging 37 percent in 38 percent of all COVID-19 cohorts, 35 percent in the COVID-19 neurological cohort, and 27 percent in the ENERGY cohort.

The other symptoms that followed were anosmia and ageusia, and syncope.

Acute encephalopathy was the most common neurological syndrome in all groups. 50 percent of the patients reported in the COVID-19 cohort, 53 percent in the neurological COVID-19 cohort and 24 percent in the ENERGY cohort.

The incidence of acute encephalopathy increased with age from 33 percent in patients younger than 40 to 74 percent in patients over 80 years of age.

Coma and stroke followed, with 17% and 3% of patients having them, respectively. The least common neurological syndromes were meningitis and encephalitis.

The researchers emphasized that acute encephalopathy is the most common neurological complication in COVID-19 patients. Often times, these patients exhibit an altered sensory state, impaired consciousness, and do not feel like themselves. These patients can also become confused, agitated, and insane.

In addition, the team stated that some people are at greater risk of developing neurological symptoms and syndromes. People at high risk include people with pre-existing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and brain, spinal cord, or nerve disorders.

“This multicenter cohort study found that neurological manifestations in COVID-19 were widespread and associated with premature mortality,” the team explained.

“Using a global network with standardized protocols and shared data elements is critical to enable further studies to understand the neurological manifestations of COVID-19, including disease progression, associations with long-term outcomes, pathobiological mechanisms, and impact on society “they concluded.

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