New study links brain complications to Covid-19

Brain complications, including stroke and psychosis, have been linked to Covid-19 in a new study by the University of Liverpool.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, focused on patients treated in UK hospitals during the exponential phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in April. Specialist doctors were asked to report clinical details of Covid-19 patients, who were experiencing a range of neurological and psychiatric complications that were potentially linked to the disease.

Of the 125 cases reported in detail, the most common brain complication observed was stroke, which was reported in 77 patients. Of these, 57 patients had a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain, known as an ischaemic stroke, nine patients had a stroke caused by a brain haemorrhage, and one patient had a stroke caused by inflammation in the blood vessels of the brain. Previously, Covid-19 has been found, in some patients, to cause severe inflammation and blood clots in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.

A further 39 patients showed signs of confusion or changes in behaviour reflecting an altered mental state, with seven of these having inflammation of the brain, medically termed encephalitis. The remaining 23 patients with an altered mental state were diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, including psychosis, a dementia-like syndrome and mood disorders. Although most psychiatric diagnoses were recorded as new, the researchers say they cannot exclude the possibility that these were undiagnosed before the patient developed Covid-19.

Medical experts say the findings highlight the need to investigate the possible effects of Covid-19 in the brain and studies to explore potential treatments.

As highlighted in our earlier blog, as each week passes it is becoming increasingly clear that coronavirus can trigger a huge range of neurological problems.