Patients with MS at increased risk for prolonged COVID-19 symptoms
Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 impacted nonhospitalized patients with MS, according to results of a prospective and longitudinal cohort study published in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.
Those with preexisting severe neurological impairment or mental health problems appeared to have increased risk.
“Understanding the burden of [post-acute sequelae of COVID-19] among patients with MS and identifying its risk factors will inform MS rehabilitation services, which are going to deal with the emerging needs of patients with MS who had COVID-19,” Afagh Garjani, MD, a neurology clinical research fellow at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust in the United Kingdom, and colleagues wrote. “In this study, we aim to understand the course of recovery from COVID-19 in MS and to determine its predictors.”
The researchers recruited 599 participants of the United Kingdom MS Register (UKMSR) COVID-19 study who reported COVID-19 between March 17, 2020, and March 19, 2021, and prospectively updated their recovery status via online questionnaires. According to Garjani and colleagues, the UKMSR contains participants’ demographic and up-to-date clinical data, as well as their web-based Expanded Disability Status Scale (web-EDSS) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales (HADS) scores. They used multivariable Cox regression analysis to examine the link between these factors and COVID-19 recovery. They excluded 28 hospitalized participants.
Results showed at least 29.7% (n = 165) of participants had long-standing COVID-19 symptoms for 4 weeks or longer and 12.4% (n = 69) for 12 weeks or longer. Those with web-EDSS scores of 7 or higher before COVID-19, those with probable anxiety and/or depression before COVID-19 onset (HADS score of 11 or higher) and women had a lower likelihood of reporting COVID-19 recovery.
“These findings will inform MS and post-COVID-19 rehabilitation services in developing individualized pathways for patients with MS, helping to reduce the burden on these health systems in the COVID-19 era,” Garjani and colleagues wrote. “They also highlight the importance of vaccination against COVID-19 in the MS population who appear to be vulnerable to the long-term effects of infection.”