J Neurol. 2020 Aug 4. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10123-y. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Neurological symptoms of COVID-19 patients have been recently described. However, no comprehensive data have been reported on pre-existing neurological comorbidities and COVID-19. This study aims at evaluating the prevalence of neurological comorbidities, and their association with COVID-19 severity.
METHODS: We evaluated all consecutive patients admitted to the Emergency Room (ER) of our hospital between the 3rd March and the 14th April 2020, and diagnosed with COVID-19. Data on neurological and non-neurological diseases were extracted, as well as data on demographic characteristics and on severity degree of COVID-19. The prevalence of neurological comorbidities was calculated, and multivariate binary logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the association between neurological diseases and COVID-19 severity.
RESULTS: We included 344 patients. Neurological comorbidities accounted for 22.4% of cases, with cerebrovascular diseases and cognitive impairment being the most frequent. Neurological comorbidity resulted independently associated with severe COVID-19 (OR 2.305; p = 0.012), as well as male gender (p = 0.001), older age (p = 0.001), neoplastic diseases (p = 0.039), and arterial hypertension (p = 0.045). When neurological comorbidity was associated with non-neurological comorbidities, the OR for severe COVID-19 rose to 7.394 (p = 0.005). Neurological patients, in particular cerebrovascular and cognitively impaired ones, received more respiratory support indication.
CONCLUSION: Neurological comorbidities represent a significant determinant of COVID-19 severity, deserving a thorough evaluation since the earliest phases of infection. The vulnerability of patients affected by neurological diseases should suggest a greater attention in targeting this population for proactive viral screening.