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A new Danish study found that COVID-19 outpatients had a higher risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and bleeding in the brain compared to patients negative for COVID-19, but most neurological disorders were no more common after COVID-19 than after other respiratory infections, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Neurology in June.
“More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the precise nature and course of the effects of COVID-19 on neurological disorders have remained uncharacterized,” said lead author Dr. Pardis Zarifkar. , member of the neurology department of the Rigshospitalet. hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Previous studies have established an association with neurological syndromes, but so far it is unclear whether COVID-19 also influences the incidence of specific neurological diseases and whether it differs from other respiratory infections.”
The study, which was recently presented at the 8th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology, found that 43,375 people tested positive for COVID-19 while 876,356 people tested negative for the disease out of a total of 919,731 attendees.
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The study used electronic health records covering around 50% of the population of Denmark, which has an estimated population of 3 million.
The study analyzed people who tested positive for COVID-19 and bacterial pneumonia in hospital settings between February 2020 and November 2021, as well as influenza patients screened from the corresponding pre-pandemic period between February 2018 and November 2019.
Of the 43,375 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, 35,362 were outpatients while 8,013 were hospitalized.
Researchers found that outpatients who tested positive for COVID-19 were 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, 2.7 times more increased risk of ischemic stroke and 4.8 times increased risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, which bleeds into the brain.
But when the researchers compared the relative risk of neurological disorders with other respiratory diseases, such as influenza, the increased risk of most neurological diseases was not higher in patients positive for COVID-19 compared to those diagnosed with other respiratory diseases – with one exception .
The researchers found that the risk of ischemic stroke increased in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to patients hospitalized with influenza.
The study was limited because it did not take into account potential confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, lifestyle, pre-existing comorbidities and length of hospital stay.
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Although the study included a large population, it was only able to examine a subset of the absolute number of people tested in the country, as only COVID-19 tests performed in hospital settings are recorded in the system. Danish electronic health record that the study used to analyze the records.
“While the risk of ischemic stroke was increased with COVID-19 compared to influenza, reassuringly most neurological disorders do not appear to be more common after COVID-19 than after influenza or community-acquired bacterial pneumonia,” the researchers concluded.
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“The frequencies of multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barré syndrome and narcolepsy did not differ after COVID-19, influenza and bacterial pneumonia,” the study adds.
“These findings will help inform our understanding of the long-term effect of COVID-19 on the body and the role infections play in neurodegenerative diseases and strokes,” Zarifkar said.
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