Neurological symptoms common in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Northwestern study finds

More than 80 percent of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine this spring had neurological symptoms, according to a study published in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

Researchers analyzed the neurological symptoms of 509 consecutive COVID-19 patients admitted to 10 Northwestern hospitals between March 5 and April 6.

Five study findings:

1. Overall, 82.3 percent of patients had neurological symptoms.

2. About 42 percent of patients had neurologic symptoms at COVID-19 onset, and 62 percent had symptoms during their hospitalization.

3. The most frequent neurological symptoms were:

  • myalgias (muscle aches): 44.8 percent
  • headaches: 37.7 percent
  • encephalopathy (a general term describing damage or disease to the brain): 31.8 percent
  • dizziness: 29.7 percent
  • impaired taste: 15.9 percent
  • loss of smell: 11.4 percent

4. While younger patients and those with severe COVID-19 were more likely to develop neurological symptoms overall, older patients were more likely to develop encephalopathy.

5. Encephalopathy also was linked to a three times longer hospital stay for COVID-19 patients and a roughly seven times higher risk of death within 30 days of hospitalization. 

View the full study here.


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