Of the more than 16,000 patients examined, 13% developed serious neurological conditions including, most commonly, encephalopathy at admission.
A peer-reviewed study published in April in the journal Critical Care Explorations found a correlation between neurological conditions and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. It has already been documented that people with pre-existing conditions affecting the cardiovascular or immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill or hospitalized when contracting COVID-19. This new international study examined otherwise healthy patients who have developed neurological impairments after being admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19. Of the more than 16,000 patients examined, 13% developed serious neurological conditions including, most commonly, encephalopathy upon admission. Encephalopathy is an umbrella term for brain disease or damage that causes a marked change in the way the brain works, or how the brain and body interact. Researchers also observed stroke and seizure, as well as meningitis/encephalitis which are both characterized by inflammation of or around the brain, and were counted in the same category. All of these neurological manifestations were much less common than encephalitis and were associated with increased ICU support needs and more severe disease in general. “Given the association of neurologic manifestations with poorer outcomes,” concluded the study’s author, Dr. Anna Cervantes-Arslanian, “further study is desperately needed to understand why these differences occur and what can be done to intervene.”