- A new coronavirus study says that people suffering from type 2 diabetes and hypertension are most at risk of developing severe brain complications.
- Neurological manifestations, including strokes, brain bleeding, and blocked blood vessels, have been observed in CT and MRI scans of COVID-19 patients.
- Researchers think that the inflammatory state following the infection can cause neurological symptoms.
Most of the people infected with the novel coronavirus will survive the illness, including people who experience more severe complications. New treatment protocols and more experience with COVID-19 patients have trained doctors to save more lives. But not all those who survive the infection will see a complete recovery within two weeks after the onset of symptoms. Some people will continue to experience manifestations of the virus for a few additional weeks or months, in what’s informally known as “Long COVID.” Also, there’s no guarantee what one’s experience will be with COVID-19, and exceptions to the already observed patterns happen all the time.
The illness has claimed the lives of many people who think they’re safe from a severe case of COVID-19 as well as people who were not previously aware that they were suffering from any health problems. Researchers are releasing more data about the virus and the illness regularly, which could eventually save even more lives.
One of the newest studies reveals key information about one of the severe COVID-19 complications physicians have encountered. The coronavirus can impact the brain, and now doctors believe that they know which people are most at risk of developing coronavirus-related brain issues.
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Strokes have been observed in COVID-19 patients since the early months of the pandemic, with doctors discovering that the illness can result in blood clots, which then lead to strokes and heart attacks.
A new study indicates that the people most likely to develop strokes and brain bleeds after being infected with the novel coronavirus are those suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
Penn Medicine’s radiology department analyzed records of COVID-19 patients who received CT and/or MRI scans between January and April. Dr. Colbey Freeman said in a statement that the effects of COVID-19 “extend far beyond the chest. Bleeding in the brain and stroke is an “increasingly reported and potentially devastating consequence.”
The researchers found that 81 people out of 1,357 patients had brain scans done due to altered mental states or other neurological defects. More than one in five of the 81 patients had developed strokes, brain bleeds, and blocked blood vessels.
At least half of the patients had pre-existing histories of high blood pressure or type two diabetes. “COVID-19 is associated with neurologic manifestations, and hypertension and type two diabetes mellitus are common in individuals who develop these manifestations,” Freeman explained. “These populations may be at higher risk for neurologic complications and should be monitored closely.”
Doctors still can’t explain the neurological effects in full, but the popular theory is that inflammation is to blame. Blood markers of inflammation were high in those patients with critical findings. “When your body is in an inflammatory state, it produces all these molecules called cytokines to help recruit the immune system to perform its function,” Freeman said. “Unfortunately, if cytokines are overproduced, the immune response actually starts doing damage.”
The researchers also found that two-thirds of the patients who had critical results were African American, according to the Radiological Society of North America. The findings further underscore the racial disparity when it comes to COVID-19 prognosis and complications risks.