A third of people hospitalized for COVID-19 showed changes in mental status, study reports | CCP virus | encephalopathy | Paula Liu


By Paula Liu

Nearly a third of people who were hospitalized in Chicago because of the CCP virus, according to a new study, experienced some altered mental state.

The scientists found that patients with altered mental states, most of whom were older and male, were more likely to die than those with a different profile.

The study analyzed the records of the first 509 patients hospitalized with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus between March 5 and April 6 and was published on October 5 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

The records were obtained from the Northwestern Medicine healthcare system, which comprises an academic medical center and nine other hospitals in the Chicago area.

Of 509 patients, 162 suffered from encephalopathy.

“Encephalopathy is a generic term that means something is wrong with the brain,” said Igor Koralnik, one of the study’s authors and head of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at Northwestern Medical School.

Koralnik said that encephalopathy can cover a range of conditions, including problems with attention and concentration, short-term memory loss, disorientation, stupor or unresponsiveness.

The data obtained suggest that people who suffered encephalopathy also had worse medical results than those who did not. In addition, patients who suffered from encephalopathy also spent more time in the hospital than those who did not, but did not spend more than triple the time.

After being discharged from the hospital, only a third of 162 people suffering from encephalopathy were able to perform regular tasks such as paying bills or cooking. In comparison, among those without encephalopathy, 89 percent were able to perform regular activities without assistance.

“Encephalopathy has been associated with the worst clinical outcomes in terms of the ability to take care of your own affairs after leaving the hospital and we also see that it is associated with increased mortality, regardless of the severity of your respiratory illness,” said Koralnik.

However, there is no clear indication of the causes of encephalopathy, as there are no studies in the midst of the pandemic. Scientists said this could be due to factors such as inflammation, systemic disease, a condition that limits the ability of the blood to clot or the virus to invade the brain.

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