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Severe COVID-19 can cause brain damage similar to 20 years of aging, study reveals

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According to the scientists, the damage can result in cognitive impairment sustained by those between 50-70 years of age and is the equivalent of essentially losing 10 IQ points.

A recent study by the researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London revealed that severe cases of COVID-19 can cause long-lasting damage to the human brain causing such severe impact that it could be equivalent to 20 years of aging. The findings of the study were published in the peer-reviewed academic journal eClinical Medicine.

According to the scientists, the damage can result in cognitive impairment sustained by those between 50-70 years of age and is the equivalent of essentially losing 10 IQ points. These findings are based on the first-ever rigorous assessments and comparisons of severe COVID-19 after-effects.

During the study, the scientists analysed patients in the UK and tested them using the Cognitron platform to measure the efficiency of their mental faculties. The researchers claimed that the subjects had slower response times and were less accurate overall. It is noteworthy that the participants scored badly in tasks related to finding words as well as processing speeds.

“Cognitive impairment is common to a wide range of neurological disorders, including dementia, and even routine aging, but the patterns we saw — the cognitive ‘fingerprint’ of COVID-19 — was distinct from all of these,” senior author Prof. David Menon of the University of Cambridge said in a statement.

These patterns were observed in mostly volunteers who had severe COVID-19. “It is very possible that some of these individuals will never fully recover,” Menon said.

The scientists also maintained that there are still a number of questions that need to be answered about COVID-19 and the effects this disease can have in the long term.

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