Monday March 27, 2023

New research suggests long COVID linked to lower brain O2 levels

Published : 03 Mar 2023, 23:23

Updated : 03 Mar 2023, 23:26

  DF News Desk
File Photo Xinhua.

Long COVID is associated with reduced brain oxygen levels, worse performance on cognitive tests and increased psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety, according to newly published research on the impacts of the disease, reported Xinhua.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo combined the results of two new parallel studies: a laboratory study involving cognitive testing and imaging of oxygen levels in the brain, and a national population survey of Canadians in 2021 and 2022.

The laboratory study found that individuals who had experienced symptomatic COVID-19 illness performed worse on two computer tasks. One is measuring inhibition and another impulsive decision-making.

Compared to those who had not been infected, people who had been infected showed a lack of increase in oxygen saturation in an area of the brain that is normally engaged during one of the tasks, the study showed.

The population survey of more than 2,000 Canadians aged 18 to 56 examined the relationships among COVID-19, cognitive function and psychiatric symptoms.

Respondents who had COVID-19 reported difficulty concentrating and problems with inhibition, as well as increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The research was published in the March volume of journal Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health.

"Our two studies, using very different methods, highlight the need to understand the full range of harms of COVID-19 illness," said Dr. Peter Hall, lead author and researcher in the School of Public Health Sciences at Waterloo.

"We still need to know more about how factors like vaccination affect the course of long COVID. We also need to know about how some physical conditions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension might impact these mechanisms and outcomes," Hall said.