eight in 10 COVID-19 sufferers undergo neurological signs, research finds

8 in 10 COVID-19 patients suffer neurological symptoms, study finds

(HealthDay) – As President Donald Trump battles coronavirus, researchers reveal new evidence: Neurological symptoms occur in 8 out of 10 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

These symptoms include muscle pain, headache, dizziness, encephalopathy, and "brain fog".

"Encephalopathy, which is characterized by altered mental function from mild confusion to coma, is the most severe neurological manifestation of COVID-19," said study co-author Dr. Igor Koralnik. He oversees the Neuro COVID-19 clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

It is not known if Trump suffers from any of these neurological problems. He was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., On Friday for treatment for COVID-19. In the meantime, First Lady Melania Trump and a number of high-ranking U.S. officials have also tested positive for the new coronavirus.

For this new study, researchers analyzed the graphs of more than 500 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 within the Northwestern Medicine healthcare system in Chicago. The researchers identified neurological symptoms in 42% of patients when their COVID-19 symptoms occurred, 63% of patients in the hospital, and 82% of patients at any point in the course of COVID-19.

Many patients reported muscle pain (45%) and headache (38%). Encephalopathy and dizziness were seen in almost a third of the patients. The study also found that 16% had taste disorders and 11% had odor disorders.

After discharge from the hospital, only 32% of patients with encephalopathy were able to run their own business, compared with 89% of those who did not develop encephalopathy.

According to the study, the mortality rate in patients with encephalopathy was also much higher (about 22%) than in patients without encephalopathy (3%).

"We are now trying to characterize the long-term neurological effects of COVID-19 and the cognitive outcomes in patients with COVID-19-associated encephalopathy," Koralnik said in a press release from the hospital. He is chief neuroinfectious disease and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine.

"We are investigating this in patients who are discharged from the hospital as well as long-distance COVID-19 drivers who have never been hospitalized but also have a similar range of neurological problems, including brain fog," he added.

The report was published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology on October 5. The results will help shape long-term care for people suffering from neurological complications from COVID-19, Koralnik said.

"Patients and doctors need to be aware of the high incidence of neurological manifestations of COVID-19 and the severity of the altered mental function associated with this disease," he noted.

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