In many cases, COVID-19 does not end when the infection is overcome, even in patients who have passed it mildly and without requiring hospitalization. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Penn State College of Medicine, more than half of people diagnosed with COVID-19 since December 2019 will experience symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or trouble concentrating for up to six months after the recovery, that is, they will suffer what is known as persistent COVID.
These persistent covid symptoms have already been seen in primary care and specialist consultations for months, especially neurological symptoms, as indicated by the data presented at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Spanish Neurology Society (SEN ), which takes place in Madrid from November 22 to December 2. And, according to studies on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having, postcovid syndrome already accounts for more than 3% of all neurology consultations in Spain.
Post-covid neurological symptoms
Post-covid symptoms have skyrocketed in neurology consultations, which have seen an increase in the number of new people with neurological disorders. In fact, according to data presented at the SEN Annual Meeting, more than 3% of the new consultations that are made in the Neurology Services are from people who have overcome COVID-19.
During the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection, it is common for patients to have neurological symptoms . Among the most common, as Dr. José Miguel Láinez, President of the Spanish Society of Neurology, points out, “muscle pain, encephalopathies, myelitis, epileptic seizures, neuropathies, anosmia and headaches” . Among hospitalized patients, these symptoms were present in 60% of them, and many of them were very serious, such as “cerebrovascular accidents, such as ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, or cerebral venous thrombosis”.
However, in many cases, neurological symptoms do not end, neither with hospitalization nor once the infection at home has been overcome, “what these studies show is that the impact of COVID-19 goes further and the neurological health of patients Spaniards continue to be affected, because symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, memory , attention and executive function problems are highly common in people who overcome COVID-19, and because this makes the post-COVID-19 syndrome already suppose an important reason for consultation in the Neurology Services ”, continues Láinez.
A study carried out in Albacete among more than 800 people assigned to LongCovidACTS concludes that the most frequent symptoms that lead people who have passed COVID-19 to people who have overcome COVID to attend neurology consultations are cognitive symptoms , such as memory and attention disorders (67%); headaches, which are present in 61% of patients; and dizziness (49%). Other frequent ones, according to other studies, are loss of taste and smell (anosmia / ageusia) in 20% of consultations, muscle pain (19%) or tremors (12%). More than 50% refer to these symptoms as fluctuating, being persistent for 27% and, furthermore, almost 50% of those surveyed had not noticed any improvement since the onset of these symptoms.
More mortality from neurological conditions
It is a discomfort or pain that is felt at some point on the front of the body between the neck and the abdomen.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only produced an increase in patients with neurological conditions, but also an increase in the mortality of neurological patients. In fact, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics ( INE ), Alzheimer’s and stroke increased their mortality considerably. In fact, dementia was the first cause of death in people with suspected COVID, Alzheimer’s was the third non-COVID cause that increased the most in Spain in 2020 and stroke was the third most common cause of death in people with confirmed COVID-19 and suspicious.
The cause of these increases, according to the SEN, is that, although COVID-19 was not the trigger for these deaths, it did contribute to its occurrence because it was among the comorbidities of the person who died. For example, having suffered a previous stroke is associated with higher mortality from COVID-19 (more than 40%).
These data show that, as Dr. José Miguel Láinez points out, “the impact of SARS-CoV-2 cannot be measured only in the number of new cases that occur per week, in the number of people who are hospitalized for this cause or in the number of people who die from COVID-19. It is a pandemic that continues to cause mortality in people suffering from other diseases and that can leave sequelae.