Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | brain damage | acute respiratory distress | covid-19

Coronavirus May Cause Brain Damage

graphic shown an scanned brain image
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By    |   Thursday, 19 March 2020 03:08 PM

Coronavirus can leave its victims with a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in severe cases that can cause damage to the brain, impair motor skills, and sometimes even kill, experts say.

USA Today reports that patients develop ARDS in the advanced stage of the disease after the lungs have been damaged and are unable to supply oxygen to the body.

These patients are put on ventilators to help circulate the oxygen, but that may not be adequate treatment for some. Even if the treatment is effective, 50% may die in 30 days according to research conducted in the Lung Safe study, USA Today says.

Dr. Nuala Meyer, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, says that even patients who recover from ARDS can suffer:

  • Physical impairments. “Patients tend to lose peripheral muscle mass and muscle function,” she says. This can impair their ability to walk.
  • Trouble swallowing and speaking due to the trauma cause by the breathing tube.
  • Cognitive impairment. A 2016 study found that patients with ARDS had cognitive impairment for up to five years after leaving the hospital.
  • Depression. “The depression takes a very physical form,” says Meyer. “Being sad at the loss of what you were able to do.”

The good news is that the lungs appear to be near normal at the five-year mark.

According to research in JAMA, the key risk factors for developing ARDS in patients with COVID-19 are compromised immune function and older age. These were also the prime criteria that also resulted in deaths from the syndrome. Researchers noted that a drug called methylprednisolone was beneficial in treating these patients.

Dr. Abhijit Duggal, a critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, says that what we are seeing now, as the COVID-19 outbreak emerges, is similar to experiences with pandemic in the past.

“If you look at the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, we saw very similar numbers where people who developed severe critical illness, requiring mechanical ventilation, developed ARDS,” he told USA Today. “Just like any other viral illness.”

Duggal adds that 80% of COVID-19 patients recover with no complications.

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Coronavirus can leave its victims with a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in severe cases that can cause damage to the brain, impair motor skills, and sometimes even kill, experts say.
brain damage, acute respiratory distress, covid-19
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2020-08-19
Thursday, 19 March 2020 03:08 PM
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