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COVID-19 infection increases risk of a range of neurological diseases,
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COVID-19 infection increases risk of a range of neurological diseases.
Those infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus have an increased risk of developing a range of neurological disorders in the first year after infection, according to a new study.
Such complications include stroke, cognitive and memory problems, anxiety, depression and migraines, according to a comprehensive analysis of U.S. federal health data.
In addition, the post-COVID brain is associated with movement disorders, ranging from tremors and involuntary muscle contractions to seizures, difficulties with balance and coordination, and hearing and visual abnormalities, among other Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
“Our study provides a comprehensive assessment of the long-term neurological consequences of COVID-19,” said senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. Past studies have examined a smaller set of neurological outcomes , mostly in hospitalized patients. We assessed 44 brain and other neurological disorders in non-hospitalized and hospitalized patients, including those admitted to intensive care units. The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19. These are all parts and components of long-term COVID. The virus is not always as benign as some people think it is.”
Overall, COVID-19 has caused more than 40 million new cases of neurological disorders worldwide, Al-Aly said.
In addition to COVID-19 infection, specific risk factors for long-term neurological problems are lacking.
“We’re seeing brain problems in people who were previously healthy and those who had mild infections,” Al-Aly said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, female or male, or what race you are. If you smoke It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke or if you have other unhealthy habits or conditions.”
Few study participants had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
This is because the vaccine has not been widely used during the time span of the study, which ran from March 2020 to early January 2021.
Notably, these data also predate the Delta, Omicron, and other COVID variants.
A previous study led by Al-Aly, published in Nature Medicine, found that the vaccine slightly reduced — about 20 percent — the risk of long-term brain problems. “Vaccinations are absolutely important, but it’s also important to understand that they do not provide complete protection against these long-term neurological conditions,” Al-Aly said.
The scientists analyzed about 14 million de-identified medical records in a database maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
They are the largest comprehensive health care system in the United States, with patients of all ages, races and genders.
Next, the research team created a control dataset of 154,000 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and January 15, 2021, and who were infected with Survive within the first 30 days after.
Neurological outcomes in the COVID-19 dataset were compared using statistical models to two other groups of people who were not infected with the virus: a control group of more than 5.6 million patients who had not been infected with COVID-19 over the same time period;
and a A control group of more than 5.8 million people from March 2018 to December 31, 2019, the pandemic has infected and killed millions of people worldwide with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Scientists analyzed brain health over a year-long period. Patients with COVID-19 had a 7% higher incidence of neurological disease compared with those who had not been infected with the virus.
Extrapolating this percentage based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States means that approximately 6.6 million people have suffered brain damage related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
One of the most common brain-related symptoms of long-term COVID is memory problems — commonly known as brain fog.
Those infected with the virus had a 77 percent increased risk of memory problems compared with those in the control group.
“These problems resolve in some people, but persist in many others,” Al-Aly said. “At this point, the ratio of those who improve to those with long-term problems is unknown.”
In addition, the team noticed an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people infected with the virus.
There were two more cases of Alzheimer’s disease per 1,000 people infected with COVID-19 compared to the control group.
“People who have had COVID-19 are less likely to suddenly develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Al-Aly said. “It takes years for Alzheimer’s disease to manifest. But what we suspect is happening is that there is Alzheimer’s disease. Predisposed people may be pushed to the brink by COVID, which means they are on a faster trajectory to develop the disease. It’s rare, but worrying.”
In addition, people infected with the virus were 50 percent more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than controls.
his is when a blood clot or other obstruction blocks the ability of the arteries to supply blood and oxygen to the brain.
Ischemic strokes account for the majority of all strokes and can lead to difficulty speaking, vision problems, cognitive confusion, loss of sensation on one side of the body, paralysis, permanent brain damage and death.
“There have been several studies by other researchers showing that, in mice and humans, SARS-CoV-2 can attack the lining of blood vessels and then trigger a stroke or seizure,” Al-Aly said. “This could help explain people without risk factors.” Why does a stroke happen all of a sudden.”
Overall, people with COVID-19 were 80% more likely to have epilepsy or seizures, 43% more likely to have mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, and mild 35% more likely to have severe to severe headaches.
They were also more likely to experience movement disorders, including involuntary muscle contractions, tremors, and other Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
COVID-19 patients were also 30% more likely to develop eye problems, such as blurred vision, dryness and retinal inflammation.
They were also 22 percent more likely to have hearing abnormalities, such as ringing in the ears, or ringing in their ears.
“Our study complements this growing body of evidence by comprehensively describing the neurological consequences of COVID-19 one year after infection,” Al-Aly said.
The long-term effects of COVID on the brain and other systems underscore the need for governments and health systems to develop policies, as well as public health and prevention strategies, to manage the ongoing pandemic and plan for a post-COVID world, Al-Aly said.
“Given the enormous scale of the pandemic, addressing these challenges requires urgent and coordinated global, national and regional response strategies – but so far there are none,” he said.
COVID-19 infection increases risk of a range of neurological diseases.
(source:internet, reference only)