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Study reports new post-COVID-19 symptoms

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A new study published on June 21, focused on studying the long-term effects of Coronavirus, has found new health problems linked to COVID-19.

The pandemic seems to be falling in many countries. However, the fight against Coronavirus has started to take place on a different front. Resources are now being utilized to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19.

A new research paper released at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) revealed COVID-19 patients faced cognitive and behavioural problems two months after recovery.

Among the specific problems were impaired memory, spatial awareness, and information processing problems.

The study also highlighted that one in five patients suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with 16 percent showing depressive symptoms.

The study, carried out in Italy, involved testing neurocognitive abilities and doing MRI brain scans of patients two months after suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.

Over 50% of patients faced cognitive problems; 16% had issues with executive function (managing work memory, flexible thinking and information processing) and 6% had visuospatial issues (difficulty in judging depth and seeing contrast).

What’s more, 6 percent had impaired memory and 25 percent manifested a combination of all these symptoms.

Cognitive and psychopathological problems were also far worse among young people, with the majority of patients under the age of 50 presenting executive function problems.

A consistent finding among patients was that greater severity of acute respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 during hospital admission was associated with poor executive function performance.

Additionally, a study observation of the same cohort at 10 months from COVID-19 infection showed a reduction of cognitive disturbances from 53 to 36 percent, but a persisting presence of PTSD and depressive symptoms.

Lead author of the study, professor Massimo Filippi, from the Scientific Institute and University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy, commented on the findings:

Our study has confirmed significant cognitive and behavioural problems are associated with COVID-19 and persist several months after remission of the disease.

A particularly alarming finding is the changes to executive function we found, which can make it difficult for people to concentrate, plan, think flexibly and remember things. These symptoms affected three in 4 younger patients who were of a working age.

No significant relationship was observed between cognitive performance and brain volume within the study.

Larger studies and longer-term follow up are both needed, but this study suggests that COVID-19 is associated with significant cognitive and psychopathological problems

concluded Dr Canu, Researcher at the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan and first author of the study.

Appropriate follow-up and treatments are crucial to ensure these previously hospitalised patients are given adequate support to help to alleviate these symptoms.

The study is one of four scientific presentations on the neurological symptoms of COVID-19 presented at the EAN congress.

Another research contribution, led by Dr Mattia Pozzato of the Osperdale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan, found 77.4 percent of 53 patients reported developing at least one neurological symptom and 46.3 percent presented with more than three neurological symptoms between five to 10 months after being hospitalised with COVID-19.

The most common of these symptoms were insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and walking difficulties.

Other less frequent symptoms included headaches, hyposmia (a reduced ability to smell) and hypogeusia (loss of taste).

The authors concluded 90 percent of patients had post-COVID-19 symptoms, and that neurological symptoms form a significant part of these.

What’s more, a research project presented by Professor Tamara S. Mischenko, Head of the Department of Neurology and Medical Psychology at Karazin University, Ukraine, followed up 42 patients aged 32 to 54 after being hospitalised with COVID-19 after two to four months, finding that 95 percent had neurocognitive impairment symptoms.

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