Nurses react as they treat a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of Milton Keynes University Hospital in Britain on January 20, 2021. People with COVID-19 are at higher risk than most people. One year later, brain damage compared to people who didn’t get infected with the coronavirus. (Toby Melville, Reuters)

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CHICAGO – The people who had it Covid-19 A year later, people who have been exposed to the coronavirus are at greater risk of multiple brain injuries compared to people who haven’t been infected, a finding that could affect millions of Americans, US researchers reported on Thursday.

The year-long study, published in Nature Medicine, assessed brain health across 44 different diseases using medical records without patient identification from millions of US veterans.

Brain and other neurological disorders occurred 7% more among those infected with the virus compared to a group of veterans who had never been infected. That translates to 6.6 million Americans who have had dementia linked to Covid infections, the group said.

“The results highlight the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19,” said senior author Dr. Ziad Al-Ali of the University of Washington School of Medicine in a statement.

Al-Ali and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System studied the medical records of 154,000 U.S. soldiers who were diagnosed with Covid-19 between March 1, 2020, and January 15, 2021.

At the same time, they compared records of 5.6 million patients without the coronavirus and another 5.8 million before the coronavirus came to the United States.

Al-Ali said that previous studies looked at a narrow group of disabled people, and mostly focused on hospitalized patients, but the study included both hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients.

Memory disorders, commonly called Brain fog, were the most common symptoms. Compared to the control group, those infected with Covid had a 77% higher risk of exposure. Memory problems.

People infected with the virus were 50% more likely to have an ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot, compared to a group that had never been infected.

People with Covid were 80% more likely to have seizures, 43% more likely to have mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, 35% more likely to have headaches and 42% more likely to have movement disorders, such as tremors, compared to control groups.

Governments and health systems need to plan for a post-Covid world, say researchers.

“Given the enormous scale of the epidemic, meeting these challenges requires urgent and coordinated – but not yet – global, national and regional response strategies,” Al-Ali said.

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