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Severe cases of COVID-19 can age the brain by 10 years



A new British study has found that patients recovering from severe cases of COVID-19 may experience a mental impairment comparable to brain aging for 10 years.

The unapproved paper by the scientists at Imperial College London was published this month on the MedRxiv preprinted website. Researchers examined the cognitive abilities of more than 84,000 suspected or confirmed patients after controlling for other factors such as age, gender and pre-existing medical conditions.

The test used in the study, the Great British Intelligence Test, measures the brain’s performance on tasks like puzzles, problem solving and word memorization.


“Individuals who recovered from COVID-19 were suspected or confirmed to have performed worse on cognitive tests in many domains than expected in terms of age and size,” the authors write. their demographic profile.

The cognitive deficits were most evident in previously hospitalized patients, especially those who had been assisted by a ventilator, whose performance was “comparable to an average 10-year decline across the entire population. demand between 20 and 70 ”.

Patients at home with respiratory symptoms or mild symptoms without breathing problems showed a slight impairment of mental function.

“Although these deficits are small on average for those at home, they are significantly more significant for those who have received a positive confirmation of COVID-19 infection,” the authors write. .

The study’s findings support growing evidence that COVID-19 can cause long-term health changes beyond initial symptoms.

The scientists wrote that their analyzes “were in line with the notion that there are chronic cognitive consequences of COVID-19” and called for more detailed research.

Some of their colleagues advise caution.

“The participants’ cognitive function was not known for prior COVIDs and the outcome did not reflect long-term recovery either – so any effect on cognition could be short-term,” said Joanna Wardlaw, professor on applied neural imaging at the University of Edinburgh, told Reuters.

Derek Hill, a professor of medical imaging sciences at University College London, called the study “intriguing but inconclusive”.


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