A preliminary study of patients hospitalized for Covid-19 showed that the disease in some severe forms can cause brain damage. That is it can cause complications such as stroke, inflammation, and symptoms such as psychosis and dementia.
These are the results of the first detailed study of the range of neurological complications of the coronavirus, the researchers pointed. It is necessary to conduct more extensive studies in order to discover the mechanisms behind them and facilitate the search for a cure.
“This is an important record of Covid-19 brain-related complications in hospitalized patients. It is very important that we continue to collect this information to fully understand the virus,” said study co-author Sarah Pett, a University College professor in London.
The study was published on Thursday in the magazine called Lancet Psychiatry. It was based on a detailed study of 125 cases across the UK. Patients ranged in age from 23 to 94 years, and although complications were more common in elderly patients, altered mental status was observed in all age groups. The data were collected between the 2nd of April and the 26th of April, while the number of patients in Great Britain grew exponentially.
Benedict Mike from the University of Liverpool emphasized that the research is focused on severe cases of the disease.
“Although the changed mental state was reported by some clinicians, we were surprised when we identified so many cases of these changes, especially in younger patients,” he said.
The most common complication was a stroke, which was reported in 57 of 125 cases. Of these cases, most were patients older than 60 years. Most of them suffered from ischemic stroke, ie blockage of a blood vessel in the brain.
The study also showed that 39 out of 125 patients showed signs of confusion or changes in behavior. This also affected their mental state. Among them, nine people had non-specific brain dysfunctions, ie encephalopathy. Seven had inflammation of the brain, ie encephalitis. The remaining 23 patients were diagnosed with an altered mental state such as mood disorders, dementia-like syndrome, and psychosis.
Although most psychiatric diagnoses have been reported as new, the researchers say they cannot rule out the possibility that the diagnosis existed before the patient contracted Covid-19.
“We now need detailed studies that will help us understand the possible biological mechanisms… so that we can investigate possible drugs,” Michael concluded.