Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19

The study titled “Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19” provides vital insights into the long-term cognitive effects observed in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. This research is particularly relevant due to growing concerns about the cognitive consequences of COVID-19, especially in the context of ‘Long COVID’ symptoms persisting into the chronic phase​​.

Key Findings of the Study:

  1. Objective and Methods: The study aimed to determine if there was an association between cognitive performance and COVID-19 infection. It involved 81,337 participants who undertook a web-optimized cognitive assessment as part of the Great British Intelligence Test. This assessment was conducted between January and December 2020 and included questions about suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infection and respiratory symptoms​​.
  2. Demographic Profile of Participants: The study encompassed a broad demographic with a mean age of 46.75 years, including diverse sociodemographic and ethnic backgrounds. Of the respondents, 93% were from the UK, and 12,689 indicated that they suspected they had experienced COVID-19 with varying degrees of respiratory severity​​.
  3. Significant Cognitive Deficits Observed: The study found that individuals who had recovered from COVID-19, including those without ongoing symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits compared to controls. This was observed even after controlling for various factors such as age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, tiredness, depression, and anxiety. Notably, the deficits were substantial for hospitalized individuals and also for non-hospitalized cases with biological confirmation of COVID-19 infection​​.
  4. Severity of Cognitive Deficits Related to Respiratory Severity: Using Generalized Linear Modelling (GLM), the study determined that global cognitive scores varied with the severity of respiratory COVID-19 symptoms. Hospitalized patients showed the most significant cognitive deficits, especially those who were put on a ventilator. Those who remained at home without inpatient support also showed smaller but statistically significant global performance deficits​​.
  5. Deficits in Various Cognitive Domains: The analysis of individual test summary scores revealed a broad and variable profile of deficits across different cognitive domains. Larger associations were found for complex tasks requiring reasoning, planning, and problem-solving, as opposed to more basic working memory functions or emotional discriminations​​.

Implications:

This study highlights the importance of considering cognitive deficits as part of the recovery process from COVID-19, especially for individuals who have been hospitalized. The findings underscore the need for further research to understand the full spectrum of COVID-19’s impact on cognitive functions and to develop strategies for rehabilitation and support for those affected by these cognitive deficits.

Read More: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00324-2/fulltext

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