Hospitalisation for COVID-19 predicts long lasting cerebrovascular impairment: A prospective observational cohort study


Human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has multiple neurological consequences, but its long-term effect on brain health is still uncertain. The cerebrovascular consequences of COVID-19 may also affect brain health. Here we assess cerebrovascular health in 45 hospitalised patients using the resting state fluctuation amplitudes (RSFA) from functional magnetic resonance imaging, in relation to disease severity and in contrast with 42 controls. Widespread changes in frontoparietal RSFA were related to the severity of the acute COVID-19 episode, as indexed by COVID-19 WHO Progression Scale, inflammatory and coagulatory biomarkers. This relationship was not explained by chronic cardiorespiratory dysfunction, age, or sex. Exploratory analysis suggests that the level of cerebrovascular dysfunction is associated with cognitive, mental, and physical health at follow-up. The principal findings were consistent across univariate and multivariate approaches. The results indicate chronic cerebrovascular impairment following severe acute COVID-19, with the potential for long-term consequences on cognitive function and mental wellbeing.