More and more new studies are providing information about the coronavirus and how an infection turns out. A recent study by the University Hospital Duisburg-Essen looked at the causes of severe covid cases.
The research team has come to an astonishing conclusion: In many cases of severe disease progression of Covid-19, there is damage to the nervous system with long-term consequences for the brain.
Severe neurological damage
For the study, the researchers examined data from 100 patients between 20 and 95 years of age who were treated at the university hospital. They found that 60 percent of these patients experienced neurological symptoms such as memory disorders.
In just under a quarter of the cases, there were even severe neurological complaints such as brain haemorrhages and strokes. The experts summarise these cases under the term neuro-COVID.
Aggravation of the course of the disease
The studies show that these neurological symptoms not only lead to a more difficult course of the disease, but that 80 percent of the patients affected by neuro-COVID already had previous neurological diseases. Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinschnitz, Director of the Clinic for Neurology at the University Hospital Essen, explains:
The more severe the effects of COVID-19 on the respiratory tract, the more severe the increase in mortality due to neuro-COVID
As the studies also show, in almost half of the patients with severe disease progression, the so-called blood-brain barrier, which is actually supposed to protect the brain, is no longer functional.
In addition, some patients have antibodies against the body's own nerve tissue. As a result, the mortality rate also increases with Neuro-Covid, as PD Dr. Dr. Mark Stettner, senior physician at the Department of Neurology at Essen University Hospital, explains:
We also see a correlation between the mortality rate and the severity of the neurological symptoms: of patients without NeuroCOVID, around 15 percent die - if the nervous system is severely affected, on the other hand, the mortality rate is almost three times as high.
Since the study was only carried out with very few test persons, further studies are now needed to confirm the results. Nevertheless, these are already of great importance for understanding the disease.