COVID-19 may be linked to brain complications, study finds. But does it cause them? – USA TODAY

A brand-new study has discovered further proof of a correlation in between extreme cases of COVID-19 and brain complications, but researchers say they still arent sure whether those problems are directly triggered by the disease.
The preliminary research study, billed as the first nationwide survey of the neurological complications of the disease, was published in The Lancet Psychiatry this week.
Throughout 3 weeks in April, scientists surveyed 153 hospitalized patients in the U.K. who had both a new confirmed or possible COVID-19 diagnosis and a brand-new neurological or psychiatric diagnosis.
Researchers found that, amongst the 125 clients with complete medical records, 57 had a stroke triggered by a blood clot in the brain and 39 had an altered frame of mind. Amongst the clients with an altered frame of mind, 10 of the patients had established psychosis — a “break with reality” — and 7 had encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
The patients ranged from 23 to 94 years old. While strokes were more common in older patients, researchers reported that clients experienced an altered frame of mind throughout age groups.
” Whilst a transformed frame of mind was being reported by some clinicians, we were amazed to determine rather numerous cases, especially in more youthful patients, and by the breadth of scientific syndromes,” Dr. Benedict Michael, who led the research study for the University of Liverpool, said in a press release.
The study, though small, helps paint a larger photo of the numerous types of neurological impacts of COVID-19, said Dr. Babak Jahromi, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Medicine.
” While weve learnt over the previous couple of months that hospitalized COVID-19 patients have a greater danger of suffering ischemic strokes, the existing research study contributes to that photo by also revealing neuropsychiatric conditions in hospitalized COVID-19 clients,” Jahromi stated.
The research study is the most current in more than 300 released works checking out a possible connection in between COVID-19 and neurological conditions. Numerous of the studies, including one in China and one in France, found that coronavirus clients often reported neurological symptoms. In other reports, autopsies on coronavirus clients in Germany found inflammation in the brain, and autopsies on clients in Massachusetts identified low levels of the infection in the brain.
In the U.S., news of a possible link between severe COVID-19 and brain issues gained momentum in April, when New York City physicians reported a surge in strokes in younger patients. Over a two-week period, Mount Sinai medical professionals reported five patients under the age of 50 who suffered large vessel strokes, according to a letter they published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Provided the frequency of the coronavirus worldwide, its possible that the connection in between serious COVID-19 and brain complications is simply coincidental, said Dr. Robert Stevens, who focuses on neurological vital care at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
” Were seeing this fascinating association, however its extremely hard to say, based on this type of outcome, that COVID causes or explains these neurological symptoms,” Stevens said. Specifically with regard to the clients that established psychosis, “its actually, truly important, specifically in these times when people are living in isolation and social distancing, there are a lot of reasons for individuals to lose it.”
Who is most vulnerable to psychiatric or neurological problems? If the coronavirus is causing brain complications, how is that taking place– through direct invasion of the cells, or by setting off a damaging, inflammatory immune action?
If the coronavirus does cause brain problems, that wouldnt be unexpected, Stevens said. Other viral diseases, such as Zika and HIV, are likewise understood to cause brain issues. Several research studies have actually likewise recorded that illness brought on by other coronaviruses — Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — triggered brain issues.
” It would not be unforeseen,” Stevens stated. “But I think thats going to turn out to be a reasonably rare event.”
Stevens said he and his team at Johns Hopkins are working with 80 sites worldwide to register clients in an observational research study on the impacts of COVID-19 in time.
” If there is certainly a link between COVID and serious problems like stroke and brain hemorrhage, the larger concern is– what are the longer-term results?” he said. “In the next 6 to 12 months, we should know a lot more.”
The authors of the research study stated their work needs to signal clinicians to the possibility of clients with COVID-19 establishing psychiatric and neurological issues.
Follow Grace Hauck on Twitter at @grace_hauck.

The study is the most recent in more than 300 released works looking into a possible connection between COVID-19 and neurological conditions. Several of the research studies, including one in China and one in France, discovered that coronavirus clients frequently reported neurological signs. Who is most susceptible to psychiatric or neurological issues? If the coronavirus is causing brain problems, how is that happening– through direct intrusion of the cells, or by triggering a damaging, inflammatory immune action?
Other viral illness, such as Zika and HIV, are likewise known to cause brain problems.