Risk Factors for New Neurologic Diagnoses in Hospitalized Patients With COVID-19: A Case-Control Study in New York City

Background and Objectives

There have been numerous reports of neurologic manifestations identified in hospitalized patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Here, we identify the spectrum of associated neurologic symptoms and diagnoses, define the time course of their development, and examine readmission rates and mortality risk posthospitalization in a multiethnic urban cohort.

Methods

We identify the occurrence of new neurologic diagnoses among patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in New York City. A retrospective cohort study was performed on 532 cases (hospitalized patients with new neurologic diagnoses within 6 weeks of positive SARS-CoV-2 laboratory results between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020). We compare demographic and clinical features of the 532 cases with 532 controls (hospitalized COVID-19 patients without neurologic diagnoses) in a case-control study with one-to-one matching and examine hospital-related data and outcomes of death and readmission up to 6 months after acute hospitalization in a secondary case-only analysis.

Results

Among the 532 cases, the most common new neurologic diagnoses included encephalopathy (478, 89.8%), stroke (66, 12.4%), and seizures (38, 7.1%). In the case-control study, cases were more likely than controls to be male (58.6% vs 52.8%, p = 0.05), had baseline neurologic comorbidities (36.3% vs 13.0%, p < 0.0001), and were to be treated in an intensive care unit (62.0% vs 9.6%, p < 0.0001). Of the 394 (74.1%) cases who survived acute hospitalization, more than half (220 of 394, 55.8%) were readmitted within 6 months, with a mortality rate of 23.2% during readmission.

Discussion

Hospitalized patients with SARS-CoV-2 and new neurologic diagnoses have significant morbidity and mortality postdischarge. Further research is needed to define the effect of neurologic diagnoses during acute hospitalization on longitudinal post-COVID-19–related symptoms including neurocognitive impairment.

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