Diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of brain complications from covid-19

People with diabetes and hypertension are at a higher risk of neurological complications such as brain hemorrhages and strokes, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) on Wednesday.

Although the virus that causes covid-19 first attacks cells in the respiratory system and often causes inflammation in the lungs which increases the risk of contracting pneumonia, the impact of the virus is also reflected in other systems of the body. .

“The effects of covid-19 extend far beyond the breast,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Colbey W. Freeman, chief resident of the radiology department at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.

Thus, if cerebral complications are rare, “they are an increasingly frequent and potentially devastating consequence of infection,” he warns.

To learn more about the phenomenon, Freeman and other researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania studied COVID-19 patients using CT scans and / or MRIs between January and April 2020 .

Of the 1,357 patients with COVID-19 treated during those four months, 81 underwent brain scans, mostly after detecting mental state alterations and focal neurological deficits such as speech and vision problems. .

Of those 81 patients, 18 (just over one in five) had emergency or critical situations such as stroke, brain hemorrhages, or blocked blood vessels.

At least half of the patients had a history of high blood pressure and / or type 2 diabetes, and three of those 18 patients died in hospital.

“Covid-19 is associated with neurological manifestations, and hypertension and type 2 diabetes are common conditions in people who develop these manifestations. Therefore, these people may be at increased risk for neurological complications and should be monitored. regularly. ”says Freeman.

Additionally, two-thirds of the critically ill patients in the study were African Americans, which suggests they may also require closer monitoring.

The study is still ongoing and researchers will continue to publish the results as new data comes in.

“In addition, we plan to initiate a larger prospective study evaluating delayed, long-term and chronic neurological manifestations that may be unknown in this early period of the pandemic,” Freeman argues.