Trigger for “fog in the head” in Long Covid identified

2023-09-23 02:02:00

90 million medical records were analyzed: two blood clotting markers indicate a connection.

According to epidemiological studies, around 36 million people in the WHO Europe region alone are likely to have developed Long Covid symptoms in the past three years as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This often also includes cognitive disorders. Using two blood clotting markers, British scientists have now discovered a clear connection to an increased tendency to thrombosis caused by Covid-19.

As part of their study, Maxime Taquet from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford and his co-authors have collected clear evidence for the cause of brain dysfunction after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. “One in eight (Covid-19) patients will receive a diagnosis of neurological or psychiatric problems within six months of acute infection. Of these symptoms, cognitive deficits (including ‘brain fog’) are particularly troubling. They are common and persistent for a long time,” describe the authors.

During the analysis and follow-up examinations, the scientists discovered the following connections: During the acute Covid-19 disease, increased levels of blood coagulation factor I (fibrinogen) compared to the inflammatory marker CRP (c-reactive protein) subsequently led to increased blood clotting factor I (fibrinogen) in patients objectively measurable cognitive disorders. Fibrinogen is produced in the liver. Elevated levels in the blood also indicate inflammatory processes that also activate blood clotting.

In a test for subjectively perceived cognitive problems, the subjects with elevated fibrinogen levels also showed significantly worse results. This may be related to the formation of microthrombi in the brain. However, fibrinogen can also directly damage nerve cells in the brain.

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The second marker was D-dimer. This protein fragment is the classic marker for thrombosis. The British scientists also discovered a clear connection between increased D-dimer levels and cognitive disorders. The researchers were able to verify the results in an analysis of more than 90 million British electronic medical records

The possible explanation: Higher D-dimer concentrations in the blood due to Covid-19 are likely to be a sign of thrombus formation in small blood vessels in the lungs and indicate a long-term reduced oxygen uptake. This would in turn be a possible cause of exhaustion.

The results indicate that if Covid-19 is severe, drugs should be used to inhibit blood clotting. This could possibly also avoid or at least noticeably alleviate Long Covid problems.

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