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1 in 3 Covid survivors suffers from neurological or mental disorders, study finds

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Reyes Magana, Teamsters Local 848 sales agent, is tested for COVID-19 at a test site provided by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on July 16, 2020 in Long Beach, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

One in three Covid-19 survivors suffered from a neurological or psychiatric disorder within six months of infection with the virus, an observational study of more than 230,000 patient health records estimated.

The study, published Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry, analyzed data from the electronic health records of 236,379 patients with Covid-19 from the U.S. network TriNetX, which includes more than 81 million people.

This group was compared with 105,579 patients diagnosed with influenza and 236,038 patients diagnosed with respiratory tract infection (including influenza).

Overall, the estimated incidence of being diagnosed with a neurological or mental health disorder following a Covid-19 infection was 34%, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford in examining 14 neurological and mental health disorders.

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For 13% of these people, it was their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis.

The most common diagnoses after having the coronavirus were anxiety disorders (occurring in 17% of patients), mood disorders (14%), substance abuse disorders (7%), and insomnia (5%). The incidence of neurological outcomes was lower, including 0.6% for cerebral hemorrhage, 2.1% for ischemic stroke and 0.7% for dementia.

After taking into account underlying health characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and existing health issues, overall there was a 44% higher risk of neurological diagnoses and of mental health after Covid-19 than after the flu, and a 16% higher risk after Covid -19 than with respiratory tract infections.

Since the coronavirus first appeared in China at the end of 2019, there have been more than 132 million reported cases of the virus and more than 2.8 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University .

Professor Paul Harrison, lead author of the study from the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, said the latest study underscored the need for healthcare systems to be equipped to deal with potentially large numbers. higher neurological disorders in virus survivors.

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“This is real data from a large number of patients. They confirm the high rates of psychiatric diagnoses after Covid-19 and show that serious disorders affecting the nervous system (such as stroke and dementia) also occur. much rarer, they are significant, especially in those who have had severe Covid-19, ”he noted.

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“Although the individual risks for most disorders are low, the effect on the general population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic and the fact that many of these conditions are chronic. Therefore, health care systems need to have the resources to meet anticipated needs, both within primary and secondary health care services. “

Dr Max Taquet, co-author of the Oxford University study, said more research needed to be done to see “what will happen beyond six months.”

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“The study cannot reveal the mechanisms involved, but highlights the need for urgent research to identify them, with a view to preventing or treating them.”

Since the emergence and spread of the pandemic around the world in the spring of 2020, a number of investigations have been carried out into the short-term and long-term effects of the virus. The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford noted that there are growing concerns that survivors may be at increased risk for neurological disorders.

“A previous observational study conducted by the same research group found that Covid-19 survivors are at increased risk for mood and anxiety disorders during the first three months after infection. However, until at present, there has been no large-scale data examining the risks of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses within six months of infection with Covid-19, ”the department said.


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