Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are three times more likely to have cognitive problems after a virus attack
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are more likely to have cognitive problems months after recovery than patients who did not require medical care, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Mount Sinai in New York City examined recovered Covid patients with no history of dementia or other mental illnesses.
They found that hospitalized patients were up to three times as likely to have a cognitive problem — including problems with attention and memory — after their bout with the virus.
Surprisingly, the team also found that people who suffered even mild to moderate cases of Covid see a decline in cognitive function, albeit at a much slower rate.
Researchers found that COVID-19 patients who required hospitalization were up to three times more likely to have a cognitive problem than patients with a mild case requiring just a simple doctor’s visit.
The average age of the study participants was 49, a worryingly low age to show so many cognitive problems. Pictured: Doctors treat a Covid patient in Tarzana, California on Sept. 2
“We found a relatively high frequency of cognitive impairment several months after patients contracted COVID-19,” researchers wrote in the study.
The research team, whose findings were published on Friday JAMA network opened, recruited 740 participants for the study, all of whom had previously contracted Covid and had no history of dementia.
Of that group, 379 were outpatients, meaning they required little medical attention beyond a standard doctor’s visit.
There were 165 participants whose case required an emergency room visit and 196 who had to be hospitalized because of the virus.
Each participant was given a variety of cognitive tests and screenings to detect potential problems.
Ambulatory participants were most likely to have memory encoding problems, 16 percent, or mental processing speed, 15 percent.
Memory encoding is the ability to process a memory, and processing speed is a person’s ability to consume and explore information.
Those who required an emergency room visit were most likely to have problems with memory encoding, 26 percent, memory recall, 23 percent, and category fluency, 21 percent.
Memory recall is a person’s ability to remember past events or facts that they know, and category fluency is a person’s ability to remember words and topics that are related to each other.
Worst off were those with the most severe Covid cases requiring hospitalization.
More than three times as many hospitalized patients, 39 percent, showed memory problems, as outpatient participants, 12 percent.
A large proportion of hospitalized patients were also found to have problems with category fluency, 35 percent, and memory encoding problems, 37 percent.
Across the board, the hospitalized patients showed more problems than others.
“The relative saving of memory recognition in the context of impaired encoding and recall suggests an executive pattern,” researchers wrote.
“This pattern is consistent with early reports describing dysexecutive syndrome after COVID-194 and has significant implications for occupational, psychological and functional outcomes.”
One worrying factor the researchers noted is that the study participants were relatively young, with an average age of 49, too young to show cognitive problems at this rate.
‘It is well known that certain populations (eg older adults) can be particularly prone to cognitive impairment after critical illness.
“However, in the relatively young cohort in the current study, a significant proportion showed cognitive dysfunction several months after recovery from COVID-19,” they wrote.
Unfortunately, young people who suffer from cognitive problems, along with many other conditions, have become a well-known and frequent symptom of a condition called ‘prolonged Covid’.
Experts aren’t sure what causes the mysterious but common condition in which recovered Covid patients still feel symptoms of the virus months after recovery.
dr. Noah Greenspan, a New York-based pulmonary health specialist who opened the first free-standing clinic dedicated to treating long-term Covid, told DailyMail.com that he often sees cognitive difficulties as a symptom of the condition.
“Unfortunately, I see it a lot,” Greenspan wrote in an email.
“For those who have significant cognitive problems, it has an incredibly adverse impact on their lives.”