COVID-19 may cause cognitive impairment, study shows

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Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life.

Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe.

In a study from Western University, scientists found short-term symptoms from COVID-19, like labored breathing, fever, and dry cough, may just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

The findings reveal short and possible long-term cognitive impairments among people who had COVID-19.

In the study, the team examined nearly 500 people approximately three months after a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The participants’ COVID-19 experiences ranged from “very mild” to “ICU on ventilation.”

The researchers found the severity of the cognitive impairments was directly related to the severity of the original infection.

The team discovered significant impairments in reasoning, speed of thinking and verbal abilities in patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but no losses in memory functioning.

The pattern of cognitive impairment in these COVID-19 patients resembles that of healthy study participants who are sleep-deprived.

The team says the worse the COVID-19 symptoms were for the patient, the worse the cognitive impairments were, as well, noting strong impairments were also seen in those with mild infection.

The study also found that the degree of cognitive impairment was not related to the amount of time that had elapsed between COVID-19 infection and the assessment, suggesting that they might be long-lasting.

The impairments were not smaller for individuals who were up to three months post-infection, which suggests that these effects may not subside in the short term.

The researchers found the COVID-19 brain study participants presented significantly elevated levels of depression and anxiety, with 30% meeting the clinical criteria for one or the other, or both.

These effects on mental health were not related to the severity of the original infection, or cognitive impairments, suggesting that they may be the result of living through the pandemic itself, rather than the result of COVID-19 infection.

If you care about COVID, please read studies that flu and COVID-19 vaccines may increase heart disease risk, and this drug combo may treat COVID-19 effectively.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about antibodies that block all the COVID-19 variants, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Adrian Owen et al and published in Cell Reports Medicine.

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