Strokes, delirium and dizziness: Here's what we know about how the coronavirus can affect the brain

 

Abby Haglage, Yahoo Life

June 30, 2020

 

When news of a respiratory illness spreading through China first broke, Dr. S. Andrew Josephson — chair of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco — didn’t anticipate that his department would be involved. “When I first heard about it ... I said, ‘This isn’t going to involve my day job,’” Josephson, who is also the editor in chief of JAMA Neurology, tells Yahoo Life.

 

But within a few weeks of COVID-19 arriving in the United States, patients began showing neurological symptoms, and Josephson realized he was wrong. “It turns out, I care for these patients every day,” he says.

 

Josephson is one of many studying how the coronavirus affects the brain and why it has been found to cause a variety of neurological symptoms, from stroke to memory loss. He authored an editorial on one of the earliest studies published by JAMA Neurology, in April, in which researchers from Wuhan, China, identified neurological symptoms in many patients with COVID-19.

 

This week he has his eyes on a new study from the U.K., published by the Lancet, which presents over 120 case reports of individuals with neurological manifestations. While the most common symptom found was stroke (reported in 57 individuals), the study also found 39 instances of patients experiencing an “altered mental status” — defined as “an acute alteration in personality, behavior, cognition or consciousness.”

 

Josephson says this phenomenon, which predates COVID-19, is referred to by many names, such as ICU delirium, hospital delirium or — the official term used in the neurology world — encephalopathy. To help clarify what that means and what we know about COVID-19 and the brain thus far, Yahoo Life spoke about it all with Josephson. Here’s what he had to say.

 

Yahoo Life: How long have experts known that this coronavirus can cause neurological symptoms? ...

 

And what about specific things? ...  

 

On the psychiatric front, we’ve heard from COVID-19 survivors who have had harrowing experiences in the ICU, sharing stories of hallucinations, pulling out their own breathing tubes and fearing that the nurses were trying to kill them. Can you help explain exactly what ICU delirium is — if that’s the right term? ...  

 

It also seems like the high rate of delirium with this virus may be influenced by the fact that many of the things that help normalize this environment have been taken away, is that correct? ...  

 

Is it clear how the coronavirus is causing these reactions? ...  

 

So it may be that these neurological and psychiatric reactions aren’t as connected to the virus as they seem? ...  

 

more, including links 

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/strokes-delirium-and-dizziness-heres-what-we-know-about-how-coronavirus-can-affect-the-brain-193313864.html