Trial places spotlight on neurological complications after COVID-19

8 Apr 2021

One-third of people who have had covid-19 have a neurological or psychiatric condition diagnosed within six months of infection, the largest trial to date finds.

The trial,  of 236379 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 estimated the incidence of a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis in the following 6 months was 33·62%, with almost 13% receiving their first such diagnosis.  Estimated incidences for the cohort were 0·56% for intracranial haemorrhage, 2·10% for ischaemic stroke, 0·11% for parkinsonism, 0·67% for dementia, 17·39% for anxiety disorder, and 1·40% for psychotic disorder.

Both incidence and hazard ratios were greater in patients who required hospitalisation or admission to ITU and in those who had encephalopathy. For patients who had been admitted to an ITU, the estimated incidence of a diagnosis was 46·42% and for a first diagnosis was 25·79%

Estimated incidences in this group were 2·66% for intracranial haemorrhage, 6·92% for ischaemic stroke, 0·26% for parkinsonism, 1·74% for dementia, 19·15% for anxiety disorder, and 2·77% for psychotic disorder

“Our data provide important evidence indicating the scale and nature of services that might be required,” concluded the research team from Oxford in the UK in their paper published in The Lancet Psychiatry. 

“The findings also highlight the need for enhanced neurological follow-up of patients who were admitted to ITU or had encephalopathy during their COVID-19 illness,” they added.

The researchers compared with COVID-19 cohort with matched cohorts diagnosed with other respiratory tract infections in the same time period.

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