Stroke, psychosis, delirium: scientists warned about the dangers of COVID-19 to the brain
On Wednesday, July 8, scientists warned of a potential wave of brain damage due to coronavirus infection, as new evidence suggests that COVID-19 could lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis, and delirium, writes Reuters.
A study by scientists at University College London (UCL) described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 who suffered temporary brain dysfunction, stroke, nerve damage, or other serious brain damage.
The study adds data to recent similar work, which also found that the disease can damage the brain.
"Whether we will face an epidemic of large-scale brain damage associated with a pandemic - perhaps similar to the outbreak of encephalitis lethargy in the 1920s and 1930s following the 1918 influenza pandemic - remains to be seen," said Michael Zandi of the Institute of Neurology at the University of California. who was the co-leader of the study.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is primarily a respiratory disease that affects the lungs, but neuroscientists say new evidence is emerging for its effect on the brain.
“I am concerned that we now have millions of people with COVID-19. And if in a year we have 10 million people recovered, and these people have a cognitive deficit ... it will affect their ability to work and do their daily activities, ”says Adrian Owen, a neurologist at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
In a UCL study published in the journal Brain, 9 patients with brain inflammation were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which is most often seen in children and can be caused by viral infections.
The team stated that they usually have approximately one adult patient with ADEM per month at their specialist clinic, but during the study period, the rate rose to at least one case per week, which they called a "troubling increase."
“Given that the disease has only been around for a few months, we may not yet know how much long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson, who led the study. "Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."
According to Owen, the new data emphasizes the need for detailed research and data collection to assess the prevalence of such neurological and psychiatric complications.
He runs an international research project at covidbrainstudy.com, where patients can register to take a series of cognitive tests to see if their brain functions have changed after COVID-19.
“This disease affects a huge number of people,” said Owen. "This is why it is so important to collect this information now."
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