(ORDO NEWS) — American scientists have summarized data from more than 80 studies and described the general picture of changes in the brain with COVID-19. The results are published in Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians have recorded hundreds of cases of neurological complications in coronavirus infection, including strokes, blurred consciousness, headaches and seizures, but there have been no general articles on this topic so far.
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh collected and analyzed electroencephalograms (EEGs) of 617 COVID-19 patients. EEG is a test used to assess the electrical activity of the brain. It is usually prescribed for patients who have a delayed response to stimuli, seizures, speech problems, inhibition, or an inability to recover from an induced coma.
“We found more than 600 such patients,” according to one of the authors of the article, Zulfi Haneef, assistant professor of neurology and neurophysiology, in a press release from Baylor College of Medicine. “Before, when we saw isolated cases, we thought it was simple coincidences, but now we can confidently say that they are related to COVID-19.”
The most common EEG abnormalities were inhibition or abnormal electrical discharge, mainly in the frontal lobe. Scientists found that about a third of patients had abnormal neuroimaging, also localized in the frontal lobe of the brain. The place of localization of the signal anomaly seemed interesting to the scientists.
“We know that the nose is the most likely entry point for the virus. So there seems to be a connection to the part of the brain immediately next to that entry point,” Hanif says.
The average age of patients with brain damage was 61 years, two thirds of them were men and one third were women. According to the authors, older men are at risk.
Some of the changes found on the EEG look so dramatic that scientists doubt they will be able to recover after recovering from COVID-19.
“As we know, the brain is an organ that cannot repair itself, so if you have any damage, it is likely to be permanent. You will not be able to fully recover,” notes Hanif. “Many people think that they will get sick, get well and everything will return to normal, but these results tell us that there may be long-term problems, which we suspected, and now we find more and more confirmation.”
However, there is no unequivocal evidence that it is a virus that causes abnormal brain changes. According to the authors, they may be due to being connected to oxygen or a ventilator, or related to heart problems that worsen during COVID-19, or other side effects of the disease.
“More research is required, but the results show that this area needs to be focused on,” the scientist emphasizes.
The authors believe that EEG studies should cover a wider range of patients, and also recommend an integrated approach that includes other methods of studying the brain, such as MRI or CT.
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