Renowned Neuroscientist Ettore Beghi Presents Findings in "Special Lecture on Neuro COVID," Oct 4, 2021, World Congress of Neurology 2021

New data for the first time reveals a connection between COVID-19 and its worsening impact on patients with existing neurological conditions. Newly released research identifying distinct profiles of COVID-19 patients with neurological conditions and manifestations was unveiled at the 25th Biennial World Congress of Neurology (WCN) 2021 by world-renowned researcher Ettore Beghi, professor of neuroepidemiology at the University of Milan, Italy. Beghi's presentation, "Special Lecture on Neuro COVID," detailed both published and newly released findings of the European Academy of Neurology COVID-19 Registry (ENERGY), of which Beghi is a member.


Most of the patients evaluated by neurologists and represented in ENERGY have a history of neurological disorders or meet certain demographic characteristics that put them at a higher risk for these complications. In this case, we've found the virus acts as a worsening actor. COVID-19 worsens patients' functional abilities, putting them at a greater risk of premature mortality, prolonged hospitalization and persisting neurological symptoms during follow-up.
Ettore Beghi

It is now understood that the likelihood of a stroke occurring during the acute stage of COVID-19 is much higher for a person with a history of vascular problems such as cardiovascular disease or hypertension compared to one who does not have this history.

Data also reveals that patients with neurodegenerative diseases tend to have more severe COVID cases and worse outcomes than those who do not.

"The COVID-19 virus creates neurological symptoms in patients that tend to persist over time, even after the worst of COVID is over," said Beghi. "By following up with registrants over a period of time, we are able to gather data on how many have recovered from their symptoms, how many have persisting symptoms and how many present with new symptoms."

The European Academy of Neurology is not alone in its interest in the neurological impact of COVID or the creation of a COVID registry. The National Institutes of Health is funding a larger registry in the United States. ENERGY also collaborated with another U.S.-based registry to collect and analyze data on predictors of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. National registries, including those in SpainPortugal, the United Kingdom and Italy, also exist, some of which are collaborating with ENERGY to compare data.

In the long-term, Beghi hopes to continue the research of ENERGY long after the end of COVID-19. He cites difficulties in extending the initiative, since this work was supported almost entirely by the voluntary and unpaid collaboration of centers in 28 countries associated with the European Academy of Neurology. 

There are no formal funding mechanisms for ENERGY. Others heading the initiative are also concerned. These include Claudio Bassetti, president of the European Academy of Neurology and professor of neurology, University of Bern, SwitzerlandRaimund Helbok, professor of neurology, University of Innsbruck, Austria; and Elena Moro, professor of neurology, Grenoble Alpes University,  Grenoble, France. They believe the registry must be maintained and are seeking ways to secure funding.

We must take the lessons we have learned from COVID to prepare for the future. Even after this pandemic ends, new ones may arise in the future. Having a system that can be operated immediately in the presence of a new virus will be useful.
Ettore Beghi


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