New study finds diabetes and hypertension may increase risk of COVID-19 brain complication

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A new study presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting shows that COVID-19 patients with the pre-existing conditions hypertension and diabetes, were at an increased risk of complications such and bleeding in the brain and stroke.

The study looked at COVID-19 patient who received either head CT or MRI scans between January and April of 2020. Of the 81 patients who were scanned, one in five had conditions such as stroke, brain bleeds or blocked blood vessels. Of patients who presented with these, around half had a history of conditions such as high blood pressure or type two diabetes.

The study was led by Colby W Freeman, chief resident in the Department of Radiology at Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, USA, he commented, “COVID-19 is associated with neurologic manifestations, and hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus are common in individuals who develop these manifestations… these populations may be at higher risk for neurologic complications and should be monitored closely.”

While COVID-19 primarily effects the lungs, it is being theorised that the inflammation associated with the infection may be leading to the neurological effects. This study looked at blood markers of inflammation which were high in people with critical results. To this effect, Freedman stated, “While complications in the brain are rare, they are an increasingly reported and potentially devastating consequence of COVID-19 infection.”

This study is ongoing and researchers will continue to publish results as they come in. These researchers are also investigating incidence of neurologic complication in COVID-19 patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


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