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Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 01:48 pm

New research has looked into how COVID-19 affects the brain and sheds light on the virus’s impact on the central nervous system…

A study by University of Cincinnati researchers and four Italian institutions reveals that altered mental status and stroke are the most common neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients.

“Studies have described the spectrum of chest imaging features of COVID-19, but only a few case reports have described COVID-19 associated neuroimaging findings,” says lead author Abdelkader Mahammedi, MD, assistant professor of radiology at UC and a UC Health neuroradiologist.

“To date, this is the largest and first study in the literature that characterises the neurological symptoms and neuroimaging features in COVID-19 patients. These newly discovered patterns could help doctors better and sooner recognise associations with COVID-19 and possibly provide earlier interventions.”

Over 700 people studied

The study included neuroimages from 725 hospitalised patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection between 29 February and 4 April 2020.

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Of these, 108 (15%) had serious neurological symptoms and underwent brain or spine imaging. Most patients (99%) had brain CT scans, while 16% had head and neck CT imaging and 18% had brain MRI.

Almost 60% reported an altered mental state

Investigators found that 59% of patients reported an altered mental state and 31% experienced a stroke, which was the most common neurological symptoms. Patients also experienced headache (12%), seizure (9%) and dizziness (4%), among other symptoms.

“Of these 108 patients, 31, or 29%, had no known past medical history. Of these, aged 16 to 62 years, 10 experienced strokes and two had brain bleeds,” Mahammedi says. “Seventy-one, or 66%, of these patients had no findings on a brain CT, out of which seven of them (35%) brain MRI showed abnormalities.”

He adds that altered mental status was more common in older adults.

More research is needed

While results show that the neuroimaging features of patients with COVID-19 vary, and an altered mental status and stroke are the most prevalent in patients, Mahammedi says this study reveals that there are other conditions to be on the lookout for.

“This topic definitely needs more research,” he says. “Currently, we have a poor understanding of the neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients, whether these are arising from critical illness or from direct central nervous system invasion of SARS-CoV-2. We hope further study on this subject will help in uncovering clues and providing better interventions for patients.”

Source: University of Cincinnati via www.sciencedaily.com

 

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