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Study: Hospitalization From Covid Causes Cognitive Impairment, Ages You 20 Years

Study: Hospitalization From Covid Causes Cognitive Impairment, Ages You 20 Years

covid study

Photo: Medical workers remove the body of a coronavirus patient while others lie in intensive care at a hospital in Machakos, Kenya, Aug. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

Some covid-19 victims who have been hospitalized are suffering from decreased cognitive function and psychological health, but people who have had all their vaccine doses will experience less severe illness, according to a recent UK study by scientists from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London.

The study found that covid hospitalization may result in patients experiencing a loss in cognitive function comparable to 20 years of aging. Cognitive impairment as a result of severe covid-19 is similar to that sustained between 50 and 70 years of age and is equivalent to losing 10 IQ points, the University of Cambridge reported.

Even mild cases of covid can lead to persistent cognitive symptoms. Between a third and three-quarters of hospitalized patients in the study were still suffering cognitive symptoms three to six months after recovering from covid.

“[Covid] does cause problems with a variety of organs in the body, including the brain and our cognitive function and our psychological health,” said David Menon, a professor at Cambridge University and senior author of the study. “If you can have a vaccine and all your doses, you will have less severe illness. So all of these problems are going to be less.”

Menon and colleagues performed cognitive tests on 46 patients, on average, six months after they were admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, a renowned research hospital in Cambridge, between March and July 2020. Of these patients, 16 received mechanical ventilation.


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The researchers compared the results of the cognitive tests with those of 460 people who never had covid. Ten people were matched for each patient according to characteristics such as age, gender, education, and first language, The Guardian reported. 

The results suggest those who were hospitalized with Covid had particular cognitive impairments, including slower processing speed.

“The thing they struggle with most is verbal reasoning,” said Menon.

The study concluded that covid-19 survivors were less accurate and with slower response times than the matched control population. The researchers estimate that the magnitude of cognitive loss is similar on average to that sustained with 20 years of aging, between 50 and 70 years of age, and that this is equivalent to losing 10 IQ points.

The study’s results were published in the eClinicalMedicine journal. 

Photo: Medical workers remove the body of a coronavirus patient while others lie in intensive care at a hospital in Machakos, Kenya, Aug. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)