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Cognitive Dysfunction Fairly Common After COVID-19 Infection

Impairments in executive functioning, processing speed, category fluency, memory encoding, and recall seen months after hospitalization

FRIDAY, Oct. 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A substantial proportion of relatively young COVID-19 survivors exhibit cognitive dysfunction several months after recovering from COVID-19, according to a research letter published online Oct. 22 in JAMA Network Open.

Jacqueline H. Becker, Ph.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues investigated rates of cognitive impairment in 740 adult survivors of COVID-19 (mean age, 49 years) who were treated in outpatient, emergency department, or inpatient hospital settings (April 2020 to May 2021). The mean time of assessment from COVID-19 diagnosis was 7.6 months.

The researchers found that in adjusted analyses, hospitalized patients were more likely than outpatients to have impairments in attention (odds ratio [OR], 2.8; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 5.9), executive functioning (OR, 1.8; 95 percent CI, 1.0 to 3.4), category fluency (OR, 3.0; 95 percent CI, 1.7 to 5.2), memory encoding (OR, 2.3; 95 percent CI, 1.3 to 4.1), and memory recall (OR, 2.2; 95 percent CI, 1.3 to 3.8). Compared with outpatients, patients treated in the emergency department were more likely to have impaired category fluency (OR, 1.8; 95 percent CI, 1.1 to 3.1) and memory encoding (OR, 1.7; 95 percent CI, 1.0 to 3.0).

“We found a relatively high frequency of cognitive impairment several months after patients contracted COVID-19,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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