A preliminary study of hospitalized patients from Covid-19 disease caused by the emerging coronavirus shows that this disease can damage the brain and cause complications such as strokes, infections, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some severe cases.
The researchers said the results are the first detailed look at a group of neurodegenerative complications of Covid-19 and confirm the need for larger studies to discover the mechanisms behind them and help find treatments.
“This is an important glimpse of Covid-19 brain-related complications in patients who have received hospital treatment,” said Sarah Pete, a professor at University College London who co-led the study. “It is very important that we continue to collect information to fully understand this virus.”
The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal on Thursday, detailed 125 cases from across the UK.
It is important to note that this study focused on severe cases, said researcher Benedict Michael of the University of Liverpool who co-led the study.
Data was collected between April 2 and 26 when the disease was spreading widely in the United Kingdom.
The most common complications from the brain were strokes, which were reported in 77 of 125 patients, most of whom were over the age of 60.
The study also found that 39 out of 125 patients showed signs of disorder or behavior changes reflecting a shift in mental state. Of these, nine had nonspecific brain dysfunction and seven had brain inflammation.
Michael said the results are an important early step in determining the effect of Covid-19 on the brain. “We currently need detailed studies to understand potential biological mechanisms … so that we can explore possible treatments,” he said.