Background: The novel human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) shows neurotropism and systemically affects the central nervous system (CNS). Cognitive deficits have been indeed reported as both short- and long-term sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the association between these disturbances and background/disease-related clinical features remains elusive. This work aimed at exploring how post-infective cognitive status relates to clinical/treatment outcomes by controlling for premorbid/current risk factors for cognitive deficits. Methods: Cognitive measures (Mini-Mental State Examination, MMSE) of N=152 COVID-19 patient were retrospectively assessed in relation to disease severity, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, steroidal treatment, and occurrence of other viral/bacterial infections by controlling for remote/recent/COVID-19-related risk factors for cognitive deficits (at-risk vs. not-at-risk: Neuro+ vs. Neuro−). Results: Descriptively, impaired MMSE performances were highly prevalent in mild-to-moderate patients (26.3%). ICU-admitted patients made less errors (p=.021) on the MMSE than those not admitted when partialling out risk factors and age—the latter negatively influencing performances. When addressing Neuro− patients only, steroidal treatment appears to improve MMSE scores among those suffering from other infections (p=.025). Discussion: Cognitive sequelae of COVID-19 are likely to arise from a complex interplay between background/clinical premorbid features and disease-related/interventional procedures and outcomes. Mild-to-moderate patients requiring assistive ventilation who however are not admitted to an ICU are more likely to suffer from cognitive deficits—despite their etiology remaining elusive.


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Manera, M., Fiabane, E., Pain, D., Aiello, E., Radici, A., Ottonello, M., Padovani, M., Wilson, B., Fish, J. & Pistarini, C. 2021, 'Clinical features and cognitive sequelae in COVID-19: a retrospective study on N=152 patients', Neurological Sciences, 43, pp. 45-50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-021-05744-8

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Last updated: 30 January 2023
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