News: Severe COVID patients face three cognitive trajectories, data shows

CDI Strategies - Volume 17, Issue 10

Hospital patients discharged after severe SARS-CoV-2 infection followed one of three cognitive trajectories, according to a study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia. In observing 946 severe COVID-19 patients aged 50 and older with no previous dementia or memory complaints, 69% were found with no cognitive impairment one month after discharge, 20% had short-term impairment which resolved in a few months, and 10% had long-term impairment that persisted at one year. Cognitive impairment was associated with higher age, less education, and delirium during hospitalization in the study, Medpage Today reported.

The study analyzed data from COVID patients admitted to Hospital das Clinicas of the University of Sao Paulo Medical School from March to December 2020. Researchers defined severe COVID as “the presence of dyspnea, a respiratory rate of 30 or more breaths per minute, a blood oxygen saturation of 93% or less, a ratio of the partial pressure of arterial oxygen to the fraction of inspired oxygen of less than 300 mm Hg, or infiltrates in more than 50% of the lung field.”

Follow-up assessments were conducted by phone with participants or caregivers at one, three, six, nine, and 12 months after hospital discharge.

“This study highlights the importance of frequent cognitive testing to determine patterns of COVID-19 cognitive impairment, given the high frequency of incident cognitive impairment 1 year after hospitalization,” the co-authors wrote.

A total of 1,105 adults with severe COVID were evaluated for cognitive function in the year after discharge. Of those, the mean age was 64.9, 44% were women, 63% were white, and 14% had a previous dementia diagnosis or substantial memory complaints at baseline. Patients with no previous dementia diagnosis or memory complaints who showed a long-term cognitive impairment at 12 months had a mean age of 65. In-hospital delirium was the leading risk factor for persistent cognitive impairment. The study had several limitations, however, and further research is called for to better understand the long-term effects following severe COVID-19 infection.

Editor’s note: To read Medpage Today’s coverage of this story, click here. To access the full study, click here

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