Neurodegenerative Disorders Tied to COVID Infection
While neuroinflammation may contribute to the accelerated development of neurodegenerative disorders, the authors also highlighted the implications of the scientific focus on long-term sequelae after COVID-19.
The study analyzed in- and outpatients in Denmark between February 2020 and November 2021, as well as influenza patients from the corresponding pre-pandemic period. Researchers used statistical techniques to calculate relative risk, and results were stratified for hospitalization status, age, sex, and comorbidities.
COVID-19 and Neurogenerative Disorders
Dr Pardis Zarifkar, lead author from the Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, explained, “More than two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the precise nature and evolution of the effects of COVID-19 on neurological disorders remained uncharacterized.
Previous studies have established an association with neurological syndromes, but until now it is unknown whether COVID-19 also influences the incidence of specific neurological diseases and whether it differs from other respiratory infections”.
The increased risk of most neurological diseases was, however, no higher in COVID-19-positive patients than in people who had been diagnosed with influenza or other respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 patients had a 1.7 times increased risk of ischaemic stroke compared to influenza and bacterial pneumonia inpatients over 80 years of age.
The frequency of other neurodegenerative illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barré syndrome and narcolepsy did not increase after COVID-19, influenza, or pneumonia.
Dr. Pardis Zarifkar added, “We found support for an increased risk of being diagnosed with neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disorders in COVID-19 positive compared to COVID-negative patients, which must be confirmed or refuted by large registry studies in the near future. 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.”
“These findings will help inform our understanding of the long-term effect of COVID-19 on the body and the role that infections play in neurodegenerative diseases and stroke.”