covid impacts brain health
(Mongkolchon Akesin/Shutterstock)

COVID-19 ‘Brain Disease’: 1 in 3 People Who Survive a Coronavirus Infection May Be Left With Permanent Brain Damage

Survivors of a COVID-19 infection may still be left with a permanent lifelong disability. According to a new U.K. study, nearly a third of individuals who contracted but recovered from COVID-19 were left with lasting “brain disease” of long-term mental health or neurological symptoms. 

Ryan Prior of CNN has reported on new research from the University of Oxford that found “34% of COVID-19 survivors received a diagnosis for a neurological or psychological condition within six months of their infection.” He added that “the most common diagnosis was anxiety, found in 17% of those treated for COVID-19, followed by mood disorders, found in 14% of patients.”

While these neurological side effects appeared to be more common in people hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection, they still showed up in people treated in outpatient settings.

“That rate increased progressively as the severity of the COVID-19 illness increased. If we look at patients who were hospitalized that rate increased to 39%,” said Maxime Taquet, an academic clinical fellow in psychiatry at the University of Oxford and co-author of the new U.K. study that was published in the journal, Lancet Psychiatry. “Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors. We now need to see what happens beyond six months.”

Taquet and her team said the study could drastically impact how healthcare officials, as well as employers, assist and accommodate the needs of COVID-19 survivors in the future.

Prior reported that the Oxford study is “the largest study of its kind yet and involved the electronic health records of more than 236,000 COVID-19 patients, mostly in the U.S.”

To complete the research, the scientists compiled data on COVID-19 infections with the health records of individuals who had experienced other types of respiratory tract infections during the same period.

“They observed that those with COVID-19 had a 44% increased risk for neurological and psychiatric illness compared to people recovering from flu,” Prior reported. “They were 16% more likely to experience those effects compared with people with other respiratory tract infections. [Additionally,] about 1 in 50 COVID-19 patients had an ischemic stroke, which is a blood clot that affects the brain.”

Several previously published studies using smaller numbers of patients have also linked COVID-19 to mental health problems. In an Italian study of 381 people published in February 2021, researchers found that 30% of COVID survivors experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after recovery. And in December 2020, a study published in Neurology: Clinical Practice reported that even moderate cases of COVID-19 could trigger seizures and movement disorders.

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

Facebook logo

Facebook Forced To Pay a Record $14-Million Settlement for Discriminating Against US Workers

October continues to be a month Facebook likely wishes it could forget. First came Frances Haugen, the whistleblower who explained in chilling detail how the site and its algorithms are designed to profit off what she called “the spread and amplification of hate, misinformation and political unrest.” Then there was…

AbbVie’s ‘Ability’ Employee Resource Group on How the Company Champions People With Seen and Unseen Disabilities

Originally published at stories.abbvie.com. AbbVie ranked No. 15 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   In the sixth of a seven-part Employee Resource Group (ERG) series, we’re shining the spotlight on Ability at AbbVie. This group focuses on advocacy and inclusion, uniting employees with disabilities,…

United States Capitol Building

More Than 300 Black Congressional Staffers Decry Lack of Diversity on Capitol Hill; Challenge Lawmakers To ‘Do Better’

Regardless of which party is in power at any given time, people of color continue to be woefully underrepresented in not just elected office but also within support roles working for those lawmakers. And now, hundreds of these staffers are speaking out about what they call an “appalling” lack of…