Psychiatrists highlight extent of Covid-19 neurological complications

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A study of 153 patients treated in UK hospitals during the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the range of neurological and psychiatric complications that may be linked to the virus.

The research carried out by the CoroNerve Studies Group, which included the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has been published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

It has revealed that, while stroke was the most commonly reported neurological complication in hospitalised Covid-19 patients, many younger patients developed an altered mental state such as psychosis or catatonia.

The median age of the patients was 71 (23-94) years. Of the 125 patients for whom complete clinical data was available, 57 (44%) suffered ischemic strokes and 39 (31%) experienced an altered mental state reflecting both neurological and psychiatric diagnoses.

Whereas 61 (82%) of cases of cerebrovascular events occurred in those over 60 years old, half of cases with an altered mental state were under 60 years old.

Dr Benedict Michael, from the University of Liverpool and senior author on the paper, said: “Whilst an altered mental state was being reported by some clinicians, we were surprised to identify quite so many cases, particularly in younger patients, and by the breadth of clinical syndromes ranging from brain inflammation (encephalitis) through to psychiatric presentations.

“Clinicians should be alert to the possibility of patients with Covid-19 developing these complications and, conversely, of the possibility of Covid-19 in patients presenting with acute neurological and psychiatric syndromes,” he added.

The full study can be found here.

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