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COVID-19 Linked to Increased Risk of Neurological Disorders

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COVID-19 is associated with increased risk of specific neurological disorders, although apart from ischemic stroke, there is no excess risk compared to infection with influenza A/B and community-acquired pneumonia, according to a study presented at the annual Congress of the European Academy of Neurology, held from June 25 to 28 in Vienna.

Pardis Zarifkar, M.D., from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues examined the association between COVID-19 and specific central and peripheral neurological diseases. Patients with COVID-19 were compared to those without and to patients with influenza A/B and community-acquired bacterial pneumonia. The incidence of neurological disease was assessed one, three, six, and 12 months after positive test results. Data were included for 42,535 people with COVID-19; 8,329 with influenza; 1,566 with pneumonia; and 2,392,400 without COVID-19.

The researchers found that patients with COVID-19 had increased relative risk of developing Guillain Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, narcolepsy, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, dementia of any type, and ischemic stroke compared to individuals without COVID-19 (relative risks, 3.1, 1.4, 3.2, 2.8, 4.9, 5.2, and 2.3, respectively). Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had an increased risk of ischemic stroke at one, three, and six months compared to patients hospitalized with influenza (relative risks, 1.9, 1.8, and 1.9, respectively). The risk of neurological diseases was not increased compared to patients hospitalized with pneumonia.

“Reassuringly, apart for ischemic stroke, most neurological disorders do not appear to be more frequent after COVID-19 than after influenza or community-acquired bacterial pneumonia,” Zarifkar said in a statement.

Abstract No. OPR-033

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