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Coronavirus may cause brain damage, even in patients with mild cases
Published on: 2020-07-09
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brain 01The novel coronavirus pandemic could lead to a wave of brain damage in infected patients, warned British researchers in a new study released Wednesday.
 

Experts at the University College London (UCL) were the latest to describe that Covid-19 could cause neurological complications including stroke, nerve damage, and potentially fatal brain inflammation -- even if the patients didn't show severe respiratory symptoms associated with the disease.
 

"We should be vigilant and look out for these complications in people who have had Covid-19," said joint senior author Dr. Michael Zandi, warning that it remains to be seen "whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic."

brain 02The study, published in the journal Brain, examined 43 patients treated at University College London Hospitals for either confirmed or suspected coronavirus, from April to May. They varied in age from 16 to 85, and showed a range of mild to severe symptoms.
 

Among these patients, researchers found 10 cases of "temporary brain dysfunction" and delirium; 12 cases of brain inflammation; eight cases of strokes; and eight cases of nerve damage.
 

Most of the patients who showed brain inflammation were diagnosed with a specific, rare and sometimes deadly condition known as Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Before the pandemic, the research team in London would see about one ADEM patient per month. During the study period, the number rose to at least one a week.

brain 03One woman hallucinated lions and monkeys in her house. Others reported numbness in their limbs or face, double vision, and disorientation. One severe patient was barely conscious, responding only when in pain.
 

Researchers are still trying to figure out why exactly Covid-19 patients are developing these brain complications. The virus that causes Covid-19 was not found in their brain fluid, meaning the virus does not appear to directly attack the brain. One theory, instead, is that the complications are indirectly triggered by an immune response from the patient's body -- not from the virus itself.
 

These findings are significant for informing how doctors around the world monitor and treat patients -- but they also pose new questions and challenges. For patients who aren't showing severe respiratory symptoms such as trouble with breathing, it can be difficult to identify these brain complications early enough to prevent or minimize damage. And for patients who are critically ill, their precarious health can limit how much doctors can do to investigate what's happening in their brain.
 

警惕新冠脑损伤风险

随着全球新冠感染病例激增,人们越来越关注新冠疾病可能产生的后遗症。英国科学家周三警告称,新冠病毒导致的潜在的脑损伤可能会引发严重的神经系统并发症,包括炎症、精神病和谵妄。
 

来自伦敦大学学院(UCL)的研究人员周三在神经学杂志《大脑》上发表了一项针对43例新冠患者的研究,结果表明这些患者患有暂时性的脑功能障碍和神经损伤等其他严重的脑部疾病。研究作者认为,应该重视新冠引起的大脑损伤。
 

上述研究发现,9名新冠患者患有一种被称为急性散播性脑脊髓炎(ADEM)的罕见脑炎,这种疾病通常由病毒感染导致,在儿童中更为常见。研究人员表示,现在这种罕见病的新冠成人患者中的发病率正在上升,在伦敦的专科诊所,每周都会发现至少一例。
 

这项研究的共同负责人、UCL的神经学研究所神经学家迈克尔·赞迪(Michael Zandi)表示:“新冠疾病是否会引发类似西班牙流感暴发后10年至20年之间流行的嗜睡性脑炎,仍有待观察。”
 

由新冠病毒引起的疾病早期被认为是一种会引起肺炎的呼吸系统疾病,但是神经学家和脑科医生认为,越来越多证据表明,新冠病毒会对大脑产生影响。
 

近期发表在《柳叶刀神经学》期刊上的一篇论文指出,在英国住院新冠危重病人中,发现有125位病人出现神经系统并发症。
 

今年3月,中国研究人员在《英国医学杂志》(BMJ)发表的一篇论文称,在113名患者中,有22%出现神经系统症状,包括出现嗜睡昏迷以及其他认知障碍。
 

6月法国研究人员报告称,重症监护室中84%的患者出现神经系统症状,三分之一的重症患者在出院时感到错乱或者迷失方向。

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