Cognitive Decline in Recovered COVID-19 Patients: An Updated Systematic Review and Recommendations

Author(s): Mohamed A Suleiman, Shristee Ghimire, Ahmad Mashlah, Sara Humayun, Chinwendu Angel Onuegbu, Zainab Imtiaz, Adebolanle Ayinde, Nebuwa Chikodili N, Oluwaseun Christiannah Konigbagbe, Samia Jahan, Kar

Background: As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has advanced to its second year, the focus is shifting to the long-term impact of COVID-19 infections on the health of survivors, particularly cognitive decline following recovery from COVID-19 infection. In this systematic review, we collate findings from current literature to describe the impact of COVID-19 infection on cognition after recovery in confirmed cases.

Methods: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used to report findings. The following combination of keywords was used to search Pubmed, ClinicalKey, Scopus, and Cochrane Library: “cognitive OR cognition”, “decline OR deficit OR impairment”, and “COVID-19 OR corona OR SARS-CoV-2”. The outcome was to assess whether recovered COVID-19 patients had a higher risk of cognitive impairment while noting the severity of initial infection.

Results: Of 1,874 records identified during database search, 92 were assessed using full-texts, and 9 studies were included in the qualitative analysis. We presented data for 1,936 patients. The incidence of cognitive impairment was determined for 1,875 out of 1,936 participants. Notably, 615 (32.8%) recovered COVID-19 patients presented with cognitive impairment.

Conclusion: Various contributors have been implicated in the post-COVID-19 cognitive impairment. Further elucidation is necessary to understand the neurotropic impact of the virus.

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