People who have had COVID-19 are at an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as brain fog, psychosis, seizures and dementia two years after infection.
Send the news: That’s according to a new large-scale study from the University of Oxford that also found that anxiety and depression were more common after COVID, although they usually resolved within two months of infection.
Why it matters: The study, published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, is the “first attempt to explore some of the heterogeneity of ongoing neurological and psychiatric aspects of COVID-19 in a large dataset,” according to an accompanying editorial.
- “The results have important implications for patients and health services, as they suggest that new cases of neurological disorders linked to COVID-19 infection are likely to emerge well after the pandemic has subsided,” said lead author Paul Harrison, a professor in psychiatry, in a statement.
Looking back: A study from the University of Oxford last year found that a third of COVID patients had suffered a psychiatric or neurological condition six months after infection.
By the numbers: For the latest study, researchers examined the risks of 14 different conditions in more than 1.25 million patients ranging from children to seniors who were mainly in the US two years after the COVID infection.
- It compared this information to the electronic records of about 1.25 million people affected by other respiratory infections during the same period.
What they found: Adults 64 and younger who had the coronavirus were more at risk for brain fog (640 cases per 10,000 people) compared to those who had had several respiratory infections (550 cases per 10,000 people).
- There were 1,540 cases of brain fog per 10,000 people in patients 65 and older who had had COVID, compared with 1,230 cases per 10,000 for people with other respiratory infections.
In the meantime, there were 450 cases of dementia per 10,000 individuals and 85 cases of psychotic disorders per 10,000 in patients over 65 years post-COVID.
- For other respiratory infections in this age group, there were 330 cases per 10,000 for dementia and 60 cases per 10,000 for psychotic disorders.
Worth nothing: Researchers found that children were twice as likely to develop epilepsy or seizures (260 in 10,000) within two years of a COVID infection, compared to those who had had other respiratory infections (130 in 10,000).
- The risk of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder also increased, although it was still rare – 18 in 10,000.
What they say: Wes Ely, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who studies Lung COVID, told STAT News that the data showed that the mood and anxiety problems that “long-prevent Covid tend to resolve in a matter of months, which is great news”. COVID patients.
- Another notable finding was “the neurocognitive deficits that cause people to get brain fog don’t resolve as quickly,” added Ely, who is also an associate director for research at the VA Tennessee Valley Geriatric Research and Education Clinical Center and was not involved in the study .
- “Clinically, in my own practice and in our long Covid clinic, this is exactly what we’re seeing: that the acquired dementia these patients get tends to be permanent and very problematic.”
It comes down to, via Harrison: The findings highlight the need for more research to understand why such neurological disorders occur after COVID “and what can be done to prevent or treat these conditions.”
Go deeper… Long COVID: the next healthcare crisis
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Ely and more details from the research.
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