Severe COVID infection may lead to cognitive problems: Study
People who suffered from severe cases of COVID-19 may develop cognitive problems — such as brain fog and trouble recalling words — equivalent to losing 10 IQ points, a small new study suggests.
The study, published April 28, 2022, in the journal eClinicalMedicine, analyzed data from 46 adults who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United Kingdom from March to July 2020, including 16 who needed ventilators.
All underwent comprehensive, computerized testing of memory, attention, and reasoning abilities an average of six months after their illness.
The researchers compared the test results to data from more than 66,000 people who weren’t infected with the virus.
The COVID survivors, especially those who’d needed ventilators, logged far slower mental processing speeds and showed less-accurate verbal reasoning than the uninfected group. The researchers estimated their magnitude of cognitive loss to be about 10 IQ points.
The results suggest that the cognitive effects of severe COVID infection are still noticeable more than six months afterward and that recovery can be gradual, the investigators said.
Harvard Health Publishing