Brain damage revealed by autopsies in patients who died of COVID-19

In the list of the effects of COVID-19 on our body, it is known that SARS-CoV-2 can cause not only respiratory disorders, but also gastrointestinal disorders, heart damage and blood clotting disorders. .

Recent in-depth autopsies of patients infected with this virus have also revealed that the virus can cause brain damage in patients. Which would in fact explain the multiple neurological symptoms that have appeared in some patients, ranging from headaches and memory loss to hallucinatory attacks or even strokes.

Photo by Pete Linforth. Pixabay credits

Much to the surprise of experts who expected to find damage from a lack of oxygen, areas of damage that are commonly associated with strokes and neuro-inflammatory diseases have also been identified.

According to some experts, this brain damage could manifest in 50% of people hospitalized for COVID-19, rendering them unable to perform normal daily tasks.

Brain injuries identified in patients who died from COVID-19

In 10 out of 19 autopsied patients aged 5 to 73 years who presented severe risk factors including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, brain lesions were therefore identified by MRI.

In some patients, spots of accumulation of immune cells such as T cells and microglia have been detected. But there were also dark areas indicating coagulated bleeding. Experts deduced that these patients had multiple small brain hemorrhages due to brain inflammation.

In addition, young people without conventional risk factors presented strokes while others presented acute changes in mental state, such as delusions and psychosis.

Brain damage is believed to be linked to an immune reaction to the virus

For accuracy, the SARS-CoV-2 viral load detected in brain tissue from autopsied patients was low. The researchers deduced that the brain damage was not caused by a direct brain invasion of the virus, but by a inflammatory response of the body which, according to other studies, can cause more damage than the virus itself.

However, due to the small sample size and limited clinical information, this is still a guess. However, these results are consistent with EEG tests performed in COVID-19 patients, revealing disturbances in the typical electrical activity of the brain that can mean swelling and inflammation of the brain and therefore cerebral encephalopathy.

The results of this study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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