Long-term cognitive performance and its relation to anti-inflammatory therapy in a cohort of survivors of severe COVID-19
Number of pages
SourceBrain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health, 25, (2022), article 100513
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC NRP
Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health
SubjectNeuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Background and objectives: Long-term cognitive performance data in former critically ill COVID-19 patients are sparse. Current evidence suggests that cognitive decline is related to neuroinflammation, which might be attenuated by COVID-19 related anti-inflammatory therapies. The objective of this prospective cohort study was to study long term cognitive outcomes following severe COVID-19 and the relation to anti-inflammatory therapies. Methods: Prospective observational cohort of patients that survived an intensive care unit (ICU) admission due to severe COVID-19. Six months after hospital discharge, we extensively assessed both objective cognitive functioning and subjective cognitive complaints. Furthermore, patients were stratified in cohorts according to their anti-inflammatory treatment (i.e. no immunomodulatory therapy, dexamethasone, or both dexamethasone and interleukin-6 receptor antagonist tocilizumab). Results: 96 patients were included (March 2020-June 2021, median [IQR] age 61 [55-69] years). 91% received invasive mechanical ventilation, and mean ± SD severity-of-disease APACHE-II-score at admission was 15.8 ± 4.1. After 6.5 ± 1.3 months, 27% of patients scored cognitively impaired. Patients that did or did not develop cognitive impairments were similar in ICU-admission parameters, clinical course and delirium incidence. Patients with subjective cognitive complaints (20%) were more likely women (61% vs 26%), and had a shorter ICU stay (median [IQR] 8 [5-15] vs 18 [9-31], p = 0.002). Objective cognitive dysfunction did not correlate with subjective cognitive dysfunction. 27% of the participants received dexamethasone during intensive care admission, 44% received additional tocilizumab and 29% received neither. Overall occurrence and severity of cognitive dysfunction were not affected by anti-inflammatory therapy, although patients treated with both dexamethasone and tocilizumab had worse executive functioning scores (Trail Making Test interference) than patients without anti-inflammatory treatment (T-score 40.3 ± 13.5 vs 49.1 ± 9.3, p = 0.007). Discussion: A relevant proportion of critically ill COVID-19 patients shows deficits in long-term cognitive functioning. Apart from more pronounced executive dysfunction, overall, anti-inflammatory therapy appeared not to affect long-term cognitive performance. Our findings provide insight in long-term cognitive outcomes in patients who survived COVID-19, that may facilitate health-care providers counseling patients and their caregivers.
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