A new study by British researchers show possible link between Covid-19 patients and brain complications such as psychosis and stroke. This study has raised worrying concerns about the extensive damage of the coronavirus.
It must be noted that the study done so far is based on data collected from doctors’ observations on a few patients, and cannot be conclusive at this point in time. However, the findings have suggested the need to further investigate the possible effects Covid-19 has on the human brain, and research possible treatments.
Lead author of the study conducted by the University of Liverpool, Benedict Michael, said, “There have been growing reports of an association between Covid-19 infection and possible neurological or psychiatric complications, but until now these have typically been limited to studies of 10 patients or fewer.”
“Ours is the first nationwide study of neurological complications associated with Covid-19, but it is important to note that it is focused on cases that are severe enough to require hospitalisation.”
The initial findings though important as they could possibly be a preview of possible brain complications arising from being infected with Covid-19, but are still inconclusive as there is insufficient data to draw any form of concrete conclusions just yet, hence they should be treated with caution for now.
The study placed focus on patients treated in UK hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic’s exponential phase in April, and the results were subsequently published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. Dr Michael and his researchers requested specialist doctors to provide clinical details of hospitalized Covid-19 patients displaying psychiatric and neurological symptoms which could potentially be linked to the coronavirus.
From 125 cases chosen as references for the study, it was reported that 77 patients suffered from the most common brain complication, stroke, in three different forms.
There were 57 patients who had an Ischaemic stroke, which is a stroke caused by a blood clot that lodges itself in an artery in the brain, reducing blood flow. The brain becomes starved for oxygen and brain cells become damaged or die off.
A further 9 patients suffered a stroke caused by an intracerebral hemorrhage, or an ICH, which happens when a blood vessel ruptures or bursts in the brain. When that happens, it causes blood to bleed and leak in the tissue around the ruptured area. Pressure from the build up of leaked blood damages the brain.
One patient in the group suffered a stroke brought about by inflammation in the blood cells of the brain.
Interestingly, previous data collected on some Covid-19 patients revealed that the virus caused severe inflammation and blood clots were found mainly in the lungs and in other parts of the body as well.
It was found that 39 patients displayed apparent changes in behaviour or signs of confusion, reflecting a state of disorientation, i.e., amnesia (memory loss), reduced alertness, emotional disorders, or disruptions in perception (a lower level of thinking and judgement), and 7 patients from this group suffered from encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. 23 patients also displayed altered mental states which included psychosis which is a severe mental disorder similar to dementia, that results in contact lost with reality.
King’s College London Vice Dean in psychology and systems sciences, Dame Professor T Wykes, said there was an overall awareness of mental health issues linked to the pandemic and extended lockdowns, which could be indirect impacts of the coronavirus.
As quoted by Professor Wykes, “We thought that these problems would just be increases in anxiety and depression but clearly there is a possibility that a small number of people may experience a first episode of psychosis following hospitalisation with severe Covid-19 – 8% of the total cases reported in this paper.”
University of Oxford professor of psychological medicine, Michael Sharpe, had this to say, “This report describes often striking cases of neurological and psychiatric illness as being sometimes associated with severe Covid-19 in hospitalised patients. It reminds us that Covid-19 is more than a respiratory infection and that we need to consider its link to a variety of other illnesses.”
Professor Sharpe went on to add that further research was necessary to determine that the mental illnesses were co-occurring with the coronavirus rather than the virus causing it.
He clarified further by saying, “At present people in the general population should not worry too much about these possibly associated illnesses as they are probably relatively rare in those who become infected with this coronavirus.”
26th June 18:40