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The brains of some people with COVID have been altered by the disease, a new study using specialized MRI machines has found.
On Monday, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) released its findings after using the special type of MRI machine to assess the long-term effects of COVID.
The scans revealed significant brain abnormalities in people post-COVID that may explain cognitive problems, anxiety and sleep problems, according to an RSNA statement.
Researchers have studied and identified changes in the brainstem and frontal lobe in patients, sometimes even six months after the covid infectionsaid RSNA.
Affected brain regions are linked to fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches and cognitive problems, according to the study.
“Our study highlights this novel aspect of the neurological effects of COVID-19 and points to significant abnormalities in COVID survivors,” said study co-author Sapna S. Mishra, Ph.D. candidate.
For the study, the researchers used sensitivity-weighted imaging to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the brain. This type of imaging is frequently used to detect and monitor many neurological conditions, including microhemorrhages, brain tumors and strokes, according to the RSNA.
Researchers analyzed data from 46 recovered COVID patients and 30 healthy control patients and found that patients with long COVID commonly recorded symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, lack of attention and memory problems.
“This study highlights serious long-term complications that can be caused by the coronavirus, even months after the infection has cleared,” Mishra said. “The current results are from the small time window. However, longitudinal time points over a few years will elucidate whether there is a permanent change.”
Americans who survive COVID have a 20% chance of managing long-lasting COVID symptoms well after their infection, according to a large study from the Centers for Disease Control, published in January.
Among adult survivors of COVID-19 under the age of 65, 1 in 5 continued to deal with at least one symptom of long COVID such as brain fog, blood clots, kidney failure, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems and muscle problems.
The risk of long COVID was even higher for survivors of the virus over the age of 65, with 1 in 4 suffering from persistent symptoms after their initial illness. They also had a higher risk of kidney failure and neurological disorders than younger age groups.
The study looked at the medical records of nearly 2 million Americans to compare the health conditions of those who had COVID-19 and those who did not. The study spanned from March 2020 to October 2021.
The most common long COVID symptoms were breathing problems and muscle or joint pain.
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These lengthy COVID symptoms can “affect a patient’s ability to contribute to the workforce and have economic consequences for survivors and their dependents,” the study authors said, and that the “care requirements could put a strain on health services”.
They also said their findings show the need for “routine assessment of post-COVID conditions among” people who contract the virus, and that this is “essential for reducing the incidence and impact of post-COVID conditions.” -COVID”.