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Cognitive Impairment Reported After COVID-19 Infection

Cognitive impairment identified in cohort of older Amerindians and in 32 patients after mild-to-moderate COVID-19

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THURSDAY, July 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive impairment has been reported following recovery from COVID-19, according to two studies presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 26 to 30 in Denver.

Gabriel de Erausquin, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Long School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving older Amerindians from Argentina to examine chronic neuropsychiatric sequelae of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Data were included for 233 SARS-CoV-2-infected participants and 64 controls. The researchers categorized the sample into three groups: normal cognition, memory-only impairment, and multiple-domain impairment (44.6, 21.0, and 34.4 percent, respectively). There was a correlation observed for severity of cognitive impairment with severity of olfactory dysfunction, but no correlation with severity of acute COVID-19.

George Vavougios, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Thessaly in Volos, Greece, and colleagues examined the prevalence and associations of cognitive impairment in 32 patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 followed for two months after hospital discharge. The researchers found that 56.2 percent of the patients presented with cognitive decline, with a Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score <24. The predominant patterns of cognitive impairment were short-term memory impairments and multidomain impairment without short-term memory deficits. There was an association observed for MoCA score with age, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and pulse oximetry oxygen saturation during the six-minute walk test.

"A brain deprived of oxygen is not healthy, and persistent deprivation may very well contribute to cognitive difficulties," Vavougios said in a statement. "These data suggest some common biological mechanisms between COVID-19's dyscognitive spectrum and post-COVID-19 fatigue that have been anecdotally reported over the last several months."

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