Risk Factors Linked With Brain Complications in COVID-19 Patients

Commonly reported issues included delirium, encephalopathies and psychiatric complications.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of Southampton has found that certain risk factors may contribute to a range of brain complications in individuals who are hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19.

Results from the study were published in the journal Brain Communications.

“It was striking not only how many different neurological and psychiatric events we observed in this study, but also that some of these conditions occurred together within the same patients,” Amy Ross-Russell, first author on the study said. “This suggests COVID can affect multiple parts of the nervous system in the same patient.”

For the study, the team of investigators gathered data of 267 patients from an online, rapid response platform in which physicians throughout the United Kingdom could report COVID-19 related neurologic and psychiatric issues.

The platform was anonymous and was hosted by the Clinical Informatics Research Unit at the University of Southampton.

Findings from the study showed that of the patients in the study, strokes were the most frequently reported conditions, with nearly half of the participants being impacted. Over a quarter of the stoked occurred in patients who were under the age of 60.

Many of those patients had modifiable risk factors increasing their likelihood of stroke, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Additionally, more than 10% of the patients had experienced a number of neurological complications and were more likely to require intensive care and ventilation.

“We found that the health status of patients prior to COVID predicted how much they recovered from neurological complications, which is important from a public health perspective,” Ian Galea, senior author on the study said. “Optimizing health status could be a vital way to increase our resilience to this and future pandemics.”