COVID-related brain damage more likely in these people

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In a recent study presented at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, researchers found that some patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk of brain complications like bleeding in the brain and stroke.

They found these potentially life-threatening conditions were more common in people with high blood pressure and diabetes.

The research is from Penn Medicine. One author is Colbey W. Freeman, M.D.

The virus that causes COVID-19 first attacks cells in the respiratory system, often leading to an inflammation of the lungs that puts people at risk of contracting pneumonia.

But the virus’s impact has also been felt in other systems of the body.

To learn more about the phenomenon, the team looked at COVID-19 patients who underwent head CT and/or MRI in their health system.

Of the 1,357 patients with COVID-19, 81 had a brain scan performed. The most common reasons for the brain scans were altered mental state and focal neurologic deficits such as speech and vision problems.

Out of 81 patients with brain scans, 18, or just over one in five, had findings that were considered an emergency or critical, including strokes, brain bleeds and blocked blood vessels.

At least half the patients had pre-existing histories of high blood pressure and/or type 2 diabetes. Three patients with emergent/critical findings died while admitted.

The exact mechanisms for COVID-19’s harmful neurological effects are not known and may involve multiple factors.

A popular theory holds that inflammation associated with the infection is the primary culprit. In the study, blood markers of inflammation were high in people with critical results.

The team says when the body is in an inflammatory state, it produces all these molecules called cytokines to help recruit the immune system to perform its function.

Unfortunately, if cytokines are overproduced, the immune response actually starts doing damage.

The researchers are examining the incidence of neurologic complications in COVID-19 patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a pump system to circulate and replenish oxygen in the blood.

Several patients in the study needed ECMO during their time at the hospital.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about the cause of ‘brain fog’ in people with COVID-19 and findings of how does COVID-19 affect the brain?

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about COVID-19 may strongly change your brain and results showing that COVID patients have higher risk for this brain disease.

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