COVID-19 brain complications found across the globe: Lancet

Cases of brain complications linked to COVID-19 are occurring across the globe, according to a new study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)


Cases of brain complications linked to COVID-19 are occurring across the globe, according to a new study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

According to the researchers from the University of Liverpool in the UK, COVID-19 has been associated mostly with problems like difficulty breathing, fever and cough.

However, as the pandemic has continued, it has become increasingly clear that other problems can occur in patients. These include confusion, stroke, inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and other kinds of nerve disease.

"It is really important that doctors around the world recognise that COVID-19 can cause encephalitis and other brain problems, which often have potentially devastating, life-changing consequences for patients," said study co-author Ava Easton, CEO of the Encephalitis Society in the UK.

A recent Liverpool-led study of Covid-19 patients hospitalised in the UK found a range of neurological and psychiatric complications that may be linked to the disease.

To get a sense of the wider picture, the researchers brought together and analysed findings from COVID-19 studies across the globe that reported on neurological complications.

The review, which included studies from China, Italy and the US among others, found almost 1,000 patients with COVID-19-associated brain, spinal cord and nerve disease.

The study found that strokes, delirium and other neurological complications are reported from most countries where there have been large outbreaks of the disease.

"Whilst these complications are relatively uncommon, the huge numbers of COVID-19 cases globally mean the overall number of patients with neurological problems is likely to be quite large," said study researcher Suzannah Lant.

According to the researchers, one of the complications found to be linked to COVID-19 is encephalitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the brain.

"We are currently pooling data from individual patients all around the world, so that we can get a more complete picture. Doctors who would like to contribute patients to this analysis can contact us via the Global COVID-Neuro Network website," the study authors wrote.

Recently another study, published this week in the journal Brain, showed that COVID-19 can cause severe neurological complications, including delirium, brain inflammation, stroke and nerve damage.

The research team had identified one rare and sometimes fatal inflammatory condition, known as ADEM, which appears to be increasing in prevalence due to the pandemic.

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