1 In 3 Covid-19 Patients Are Diagnosed With a Neuropsychiatr
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Six months after being diagnosed with COVID-19, 1 in 3 patients also had experienced a psychiatric or neurological illness, mostly mood disorders but also strokes or dementia, a large new study shows. The study, used real-world health data on millions of people to gauge the incidence of 13 brain disorders.

Anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders were most common, but the researchers also found worrying, if lower, rates of serious neurological complications, especially in patients who had been severely ill with COVID-19. In all COVID-19 patients, 0.6% developed a brain hemorrhage, 2.1% an ischemic stroke, and 0.7% dementia.

The researchers analyzed electronic health records of 81 million U.S. patients, finding 236,379 people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and comparing them to three cohorts of similar people: one cohort had the flu, another had another respiratory illness such as sinusitis or pneumonia, and one cohort included people who were hospitalized for unrelated conditions such as bone fractures or gallstones.

The researchers hoped that comparing the COVID group to the others would help isolate COVID-19 as a cause and tease out its effects on the brain. After accounting for patients’ age, sex, ethnicity, and existing health conditions, patients overall had a 44% higher risk of neurological and mental health diagnoses after COVID-19 than after flu, and a 16% higher risk after COVID-19 than after other respiratory tract infections.

There were two exceptions: The researchers did not see an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease or Guillain-Barré syndrome. The new study reinforces previous research that showed some brain disorders increased with the severity of illness, going up in people who needed to be hospitalized and rising further in people who needed intensive care.

While 33.6% of people developed a neuropsychiatric illness overall, that risk grew to 46.4% among COVID patients treated in an ICU. While the medical records could tell the researchers whether someone had previously suffered a stroke or been diagnosed with dementia, they couldn’t surmise whether someone was going to have a recurrence anyway or whether COVID-19 caused it.

The numbers they reported could be an underestimate if they don’t include people who were infected with COVID but did not test positive for it, or if people had no symptoms that drove them to seek medical care. On the flip side, patients with COVID-19 might be more likely to have a neurological and psychiatric disorder diagnosed simply because they were receiving more medical attention compared to patients with the flu or other respiratory infections, Taquet pointed out.

Source:
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00084-5/fulltext
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