HealthCOVID-19 linked to global cognitive deficits, equivalent to brain aging by twenty years, study finds

COVID-19 linked to global cognitive deficits, equivalent to brain aging by twenty years, study finds

How does COVID affect the brain?
How does COVID affect the brain?
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7:22 AM EST, February 25, 2024, updated: 5:00 AM EST, February 27, 2024

The study involved a control group of 2927 individuals and 351 patients who had been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Participants were examined on average 384 days after hospital admission. Tests included serum biomarkers and neuroimaging.

Findings of the study indicated that COVID-19 is associated with both subjective and objectively measurable cognitive deficits. These can affect accuracy and reaction speed. The most affected were patients who experienced encephalopathy or cerebrovascular complications. Some patients demonstrated deficits equivalent to an aging brain of twenty years.

Factors Influencing Cognitive Deficits

The analysis revealed that cognitive deficits had a greater correlation with the patient's age, severity of COVID-19 according to the WHO scale, presence of neurological and psychiatric complications, and the number of comorbidities. Interestingly, higher education levels and treatment with dexamethasone during the acute phase of the disease may have protective effects on cognitive functions.

Structural Changes in the Brain

Study results also confirmed a link between compromised cognitive functions and structural changes in the brain. These were observed using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Patients with cognitive deficits were found to have decreased volume in certain brain regions. This underlines the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the brain.

Learning from the Study

Studies of potential therapeutic interventions in the future showed that administering corticosteroids in the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection might provide a protective effect against cognitive function loss. This finding is a promising avenue for future research, as COVID-19 continues to prevail.

Scientists further emphasize the importance of long-term care, support, and additional research for people who experience cognitive consequences from the disease.

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