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Scientists may now know what is causing long COVID

Researchers took blood tests and special brain scans of 32 patients who previously had a COVID infection.
Scientists may now know what is causing long COVID
Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 26, 2024

Scientists out of Dublin, Ireland, have found a connection between brain fog in long COVID patients and leaky blood vessels in their brains.

Long COVID symptoms last for weeks, months, or years after someone's had an acute infection. Brain fog symptoms include forgetfulness and problems focusing, concentrating and paying attention.

Researchers took blood tests and special brain scans of 32 patients who previously had a COVID infection. Of those with long COVID brain fog, they found the blood vessels in the brain were not as strong — more "leaky," meaning they showed increased inflammation. In that group about half showed mild to moderate issues with  "recall, executive functioning and word finding." 

Trinity College Dublin, where the research took place, shared a video press release to the media.

"It is applied to people who are suffering from strokes or brain cancer and other neurological disorders. We want to now use this biomarker to identify those who are at risk of developing neurological symptoms of other post-viral illnesses, including long COVID," said Dr. Eric Greene, a long COVID researcher.

More studies with far more patients are next. It's a discovery that may be particularly validating for long COVID patients, because right now diagnosis can be difficult.

"Many patients have been told that they're not suffering at all. They need to get back to work, etc. So now we know there's a definite pathological basis for long-COVID," said Prof. Colin Doherty, neurology professor and head of Trinity College Dublin medical school.

This also adds important metrics as scientists look for long COVID treatments and eventually a cure. Right now, neither exist and doctors only treat symptoms. 

SEE MORE: 1 in 10 pregnant people with COVID develop long COVID within 6 months


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