Strokes, altered mental states seen in some acute covid patients

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Bhawani Singh
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Severe cases of Covid-19 are linked to brain complications including strokes, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some patients, a new study shows.

Strokes were reported in more than 60% of 125 patients in a U.K.-wide study who suffered brain problems along with Covid-19, according to research published Thursday in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. Almost a third experienced signs of confusion or changes in behavior reflecting an altered mental state. The study focused on cases that were serious enough to require hospitalization.

Doctors around the world have pointed to a widening list of ailments in patients infected with the coronavirus, from clotting-related disorders to life-threatening strokes. The researchers in Britain set out to build on the increasing, albeit limited, evidence showing a link between Covid-19 and possible neurological or psychiatric complications.

About half of the patients with an altered mental state were younger than 60, the study found. The findings could help guide broader studies that may pave the way for treatments, according to the authors.

“These studies will help inform on the frequency of these brain complications, who’s most at risk of getting them, and ultimately how best to treat,” Sarah Pett, a professor at University College London and co-author of the study, said in a statement accompanying the results.

Further research is needed to better understand brain complications in people with Covid-19 who aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized, she said. The patients in the study were selected by specialist doctors and so probably represent the most dire cases.

The coronavirus, seen initially as a cause of viral pneumonia following a surge of cases in China, is now thought to damage the body in a number of unexpected and sometimes deadly ways.

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