Study Suggests Covid-19 Infection Could Age Brain, Reduce Cognition

Grant Boone
October 29, 2020

The research found strokes occurred in 14 out of every 1,000 cases - the equivalent of 1.4 hospitalised patients out of every 100.

"In the sickest patients with COVID-19, autoantibody production is common - a finding with large potential impact on both acute patient care and infection recovery", wrote Matthew Woodruff, an immunologist within the Lowance Center for Human Immunology at Emory University and co-author of the study.

The study's authors were particularly interested in studying vitamin D because they said there's evidence to suggest it plays a role in COVID-19 infection.

Elaborating on the co-relation of a brain stroke with Covid-19, Dr S Gopi, neurologist at King George Hospital (KGH), said patients can suffer from two kinds of strokes.

Scientists also found people in countries that have the highest mortality rates from COVID-19 like Italy and Spain, also have the lowest levels of vitamin D. Conversely, the highest levels of vitamin D were found in countries such as the Scandinavian nations, with the lowest mortality rates, according to Science Daily.

The study also noted that vitamin D levels were "especially lower" in men with COVID-19 compared to women.

Researchers say there may be several possible mechanisms behind the link between Covid-19 and stroke. We're also aware that in the absence of a drug or vaccine, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and regular hand washing are our best precautions against COVID-19. However, the infection can cause disease in other organs, including the brain, and in more severe cases can lead to stroke and brain haemorrhage. These autoimmune reactions may be similar to lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, researchers say, and may explain the enduring symptoms of "long-haulers"-people who experience COVID-19 symptoms for many weeks or months after their bodies have technically cleared the virus".

Long-term immunity against coronavirus doubtful as antibodies fall rapidly
Antibodies are a key part of the body's immune defences and stop viruses from getting inside the body's cells. It remains unclear what level of immunity antibodies provide, or for how long this immunity lasts.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes are leading causes of stroke, and one in three US adults has at least one of these conditions or habits. Joanna Wardlaw, a professor of applied neuroimaging at Edinburgh University, told the news agency that the cognitive function of the patients who took part of the Great British Intelligence Test was not known prior to their COVID-19 infection.

However, Covid-19 patients who had a stroke were on average six years younger than stroke patients without Covid-19.

There was no significant difference seen between smokers and non-smokers, nor was one seen between the sexes.

Another relates to a protein "receptor" on the surface of cells that the virus uses to break into the cell.

'Firstly, SARS-CoV-2 more so than other coronaviruses - and significantly more so than seasonal flu - appears to be associated with stroke. This receptor is commonly found on cells in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and in the lining of blood vessels - if the virus invades the lining of blood vessels, it could cause inflammation, constricting the blood vessels and restricting blood flow.

Recent research suggests that the virus may cause a significant decrease in brain function and makes it age faster.

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While the majority of strokes occurred after a few days of COVID-19 symptoms onset, neurological symptoms represented the reason for hospital admission in more than one third of people with COVID-19 and stroke.

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