Covid-19 positive people with mental health problems at high risk of dying from virus: Study

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Mumbai, December 19 A study carried by researchers at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine stated that Covid-19 positive people facing neurological problems, including stroke and confusion, have a higher risk of dying from the virus.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, stated that addressing mental health issues can help in mitigating Covid-19 deaths.

For the research, the researchers examined the data collected from 4,711 Covid-19 patients who were admitted to Montefiore during the six-week period between March 1, 2020, and April 16, 2020.

Of those patients, 581 (12 per cent) had neurological problems serious enough to warrant brain imaging. These individuals were compared with 1,743 non-neurological Covid-19 patients of similar age and disease severity who were admitted during the same period.

David Altschul, M.D., chief of the division of neurovascular surgery at Einstein and Montefiore said, “This study is the first to show that the presence of neurological symptoms, particularly stroke and confused or altered thinking, may indicate a more serious course of illness, even when pulmonary problems aren’t severe.”

“Hospitals can use this knowledge to prioritise treatment and, hopefully, save more lives during this pandemic,” he added.

Among people who underwent brain imaging, 55 were diagnosed with stroke and 258 people exhibited confusion or altered thinking ability.

Individuals with stroke were twice as likely to die (49 per cent mortality) compared with their matched controls (24 per cent mortality) – a statistically significant difference. People with confusion had a 40 per cent mortality rate compared with 33 per cent for their matched controls – also statistically significant, the study noted.

Furthermore, over half the stroke patients in the study did not have hypertension or other underlying risk factors for stroke.

“This highly unusual finding agrees with other studies of people with Covid-19 in suggesting that infection with the novel coronavirus is itself a risk factor for stroke,” said Dr Altschul, who is also surgical director of the Montefiore Comprehensive Center for Stroke Care.

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