Spectrum, Risk Factors, and Outcomes of Neurological and Psychiatric Complications of COVID-19: A UK-Wide Cross-Sectional Surveillance Study
47 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2021 Last revised: 24 Jun 2021
Date Written: January 17, 2021
Background: SARS-CoV2 is associated with neurological and psychiatric complications including cerebrovascular events, encephalopathy and peripheral nerve disease. Detailed clinical data, including factors associated with recovery, is lacking, hampering prediction modelling and targeted therapeutic interventions. We studied COVID-associated neurological and psychiatric complications, to investigate the key clinical features, including those associated with outcome.
Methods: This UK-wide cross-sectional surveillance study of neurological and psychiatric complications of COVID-19 in adult hospitalised patients captured detailed data on demographics/risk factors, pre-COVID-19 Rockwood frailty score, comorbidities, neurological presentation and outcome. A priori clinical case definitions, based on criteria adopted by the World Health Organisation, were used, with cross-specialty independent adjudication for discrepant cases. Patients meeting multiple clinical case definitions were identified. Cases of stroke were compared to normative data during the equivalent time-period prior to the pandemic. Multivariable logistic regression was performed using demographic and clinical variables, to determine the factors associated with outcome.
Findings: 267 cases were included. Cerebrovascular events were most frequently reported (131, 49%), followed by central disorders (95, 36%) including delirium (28, 11%), central inflammatory (25, 9%), psychiatric (25, 9%), and other encephalopathies (17, 7%), including a severe encephalopathy not meeting delirium criteria; and peripheral nerve-disorders (41, 15%). 27% of cerebrovascular events occurred in patients <60 years. Relative to those >60 years old, the younger patients presented with delayed onset from respiratory symptoms, higher rates of multi-vessel occlusion (31%) and more frequently had systemic thrombotic events. Nevertheless, in both younger and older stroke cases there was an association with conventional, modifiable, cerebrovascular risk factors. The timing of neurological presentation varied between disease groups. In 34 cases (13%), clinical case definitions overlapped, and these cases were more likely to require intensive care and ventilation. Regardless of clinical case definition, older age, a higher pre-COVID-19 frailty score, and a high admission white cell count independently associated with a poor outcome. Limited recovery was most common for those with cerebrovascular events.
Interpretation: COVID-19 is associated with a broad spectrum of presentations throughout the nervous system, at varied time points relative to respiratory disease. Outcomes vary between disease groups, with cerebrovascular disease conferring the worst prognosis, but this effect was less marked than the pre-morbid factors of age and frailty. A severe encephalopathy occurs after COVID-19 and is associated with requiring intensive care and ventilation. COVID-19 is associated with large and multi-vessel stroke in young people, often with non-CNS thrombotic disease and requires further study. Nevertheless, conventional, modifiable risk factors were associated with stroke, even in younger people, suggesting the potential for public health intervention for this and future pandemics. These clinical data should be combined with blood and neuroimaging biomarkers so that patients can be stratified to targeted existing or novel therapeutics.
Note: Funding: UK Research and Innovation, Medical Research Council, and National Institute of Health Research
Declaration of Interests: None.
Ethics Approval Statement: The UK Health Research Authority advised that the study did not require review by an NHS Research Ethics Committee as this was a surveillance study with non-identifiable information. This study was approved by the University of Liverpool (UoL #7725/2020) and the University of Southampton (ERGO #56504).
Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Encephalitis, Encephalopathy, Stroke
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