Covid impairs brain health but not more than pneumonia, heart attack: Study

Last Updated on December 29, 2023 by IANS

London, Dec 29 (IANS) Severe Covid-19 infection can impair the brain health of people, but not more than the patients hospitalised for other diseases of similar severity like pneumonia and heart attack, according to a study. Brain health is most likely compromised after hospitalisation for Covid-19.

However, researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark investigated whether long-term cognitive, psychiatric, or neurological complications among patients hospitalised for Covid-19 differ from those among patients hospitalised for other medical conditions of similar severity and from healthy controls.

The study, published in the JAMA Network, included 345 participants, including 120 patients with Covid, 125 hospitalised controls for pneumonia, myocardial infarction (a type of heart attack), or non-Covid-19 intensive care-requiring illness between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, and 100 healthy controls.

Patients with Covid-19 had worse cognitive status than healthy controls, but not hospitalised controls.

Patients with Covid-19 also performed worse than healthy controls during all other psychiatric and neurological assessments.

“However, except for executive dysfunction, the brain health of patients with Covid was not more impaired than among hospitalised control patients. These results remained consistent across various sensitivity analyses,” the researchers found. Impaired brain health after SARS-CoV-2 infection remains common 3 years after the outbreak of Covid-19, echoing impairments seen in previous virus pandemics.

The long-term effects of Covid-19 are associated with more than 200 symptoms, affecting 65 million individuals worldwide.

Apart from respiratory symptoms, the most frequent symptoms are related to brain health, including cognitive and mental symptoms.

However, the study confirmed that long-term cognitive and neuropsychiatric sequelae also occur after non-Covid-19 conditions, such as pneumonia, myocardial infarction, and other diseases, including those requiring admission to the intensive care unit (ICU).

“This prospective cohort study suggests that post–Covid-19 brain health was impaired but, overall, no more than the brain health of patients from 3 non-Covid-19 cohorts of comparable disease severity,” the researchers said.

“Long-term associations with brain health might not be specific to Covid-19 but are associated with overall illness severity and hospitalisation. This information is important for putting understandable concerns about brain health after Covid-19 into perspective,” they added in the paper.



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