Covid-19: a third of patients suffer from neurological or psychiatric disorders within six months of infection

Covid-19: a third of patients suffer from neurological or psychiatric disorders within six months of infection

According to a study published this Tuesday, April 6 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, within six months of recovery from Covid-19, one in three patients presents with neurological or psychiatric disorders. The most severe forms of these disorders have developed in patients most affected by the disease.

Patients recovering from Covid-19 are not completely out of the woods, according to the results of a British study on the effects of the disease in the medium term, published Tuesday April 6 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry. It appears that the incidence and the relative risk of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses increase in these patients. Thus, 34% of cured people were diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric disease within six months of infection. For 13% of these people, it was the first time that such a diagnosis had been made.

The most common disorders are anxiety and mood disorders. 17% of people who are cured suffer from anxiety within six months of recovery, and 14% from mood disorders. But these are not the only possible consequences of the disease. Almost 7% of patients placed in intensive care subsequently had a stroke, 2.7% had a cerebral hemorrhage and almost 2% developed dementia. The risks are in this case higher in patients having presented a severe form of Covid-19: in patients whose condition did not require hospitalization, the risk was respectively 1.3%, 0.3% and 0.4%.

A vision of the medium-term consequences for long-term issues

The study by British scientists is based on a cohort of 236,379 patients diagnosed with Covid-19, compared to control groups of patients with influenza (100,000 people) or respiratory infections (236,000 people). For the authors of the study, "given the scale of the pandemic and the chronicity of many diagnoses and their consequences, significant effects on the health and social care systems are likely to occur. Our data provides important evidence indicating the extent and nature of the services that may be needed ”.

It is therefore a matter of forecasting and anticipating the care needs that are likely to develop in the near future. The authors thus underline "the need to improve the neurological follow-up of patients admitted to intensive care units or suffering from encephalopathy during their COVID-19 disease". Psychiatric services are also likely to be very strained, warn the authors: "As with neurological findings, the psychiatric sequelae of COVID-19 appear to be widespread and persist for up to 6 months, and possibly beyond."

As the disease is still recent, the authors of the British study are already emphasizing the relevance of longer-term studies "to determine the duration of risk and the trajectory of individual diagnoses".

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