More than half experience cognitive disturbances, many have problems with executive function
Surviving COVID-19 infection does not necessarily mean those who were infected have gone past the darkest days, according to a report presented at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN).
Eight weeks after overcoming the virus, more than 50 per cent of patients experienced cognitive disturbances, and 16 per cent presented depressive symptoms.
Working-age Canadians who live through a major depressive episode go on to experience a loss in earnings that persists for at least a decade, found an Institute for Work & Health (IWH) study.
Another 16 per cent had problems with executive function that governs working memory, flexible thinking, and information processing, according to the COVID report at EAN.
Others also experienced difficulties judging depth and seeing contrast (six per cent) or had impaired memory (six per cent).
A quarter of the sample (25 per cent) experienced a combination of all of these symptoms.
“A particularly alarming finding is the changes to executive function we found, which can make it difficult for people to concentrate, plan, think flexibly and remember things. These symptoms affected three in 4 younger patients who were of a working age," said lead author Prof. Massimo Filippi, from the Scientific Institute and University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Italy.
Cognitive impairment or “brain fog” is the top reported symptom of COVID-19 in the long term, according to another report.
Cognitive and psychopathological problems were much worse in younger people, with the majority of patients aged under 50 demonstrating issues with executive functions, according to the study presented at the 7th Congress of the EAN.
In the whole sample, the greater severity of COVID-19 acute respiratory symptoms during hospital admission was associated with low executive function performance.
Additionally, a longitudinal observation of the same cohort at 10 months from COVID-19 showed a reduction of cognitive disturbances from 53 per cent to 36 per cent, but a persisting presence of PTSD and depressive symptoms.
“Larger studies and longer-term follow up are both needed, but this study suggests that COVID-19 is associated with significant cognitive and psychopathological problems,” said Dr. Canu, from the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan and study first author. “Appropriate follow-up and treatments are crucial to ensure these previously hospitalised patients are given adequate support to help to alleviate these symptoms.”
More than eight in 10 (81 per cent) of Ontario frontline healthcare workers are potentially willing to take COVID-19 vaccines if personal financial barriers are eliminated, according to a previous report.