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Cureus . The Impact of Long COVID on Cognitive Performance and Sleep Quality: An Analysis of the Rancagua Chilean Study (RACHIS)

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  • Cureus . The Impact of Long COVID on Cognitive Performance and Sleep Quality: An Analysis of the Rancagua Chilean Study (RACHIS)

    Cureus


    . 2024 Feb 27;16(2):e55089.
    doi: 10.7759/cureus.55089. eCollection 2024 Feb. The Impact of Long COVID on Cognitive Performance and Sleep Quality: An Analysis of the Rancagua Chilean Study (RACHIS)

    Héctor Aceituno 1 , Andrea Barrancas 2 , Fernando Quiroz-Bravo 3 , Dairene Rigaud 4 , Denis Pérez-Cuesta 3 , Aline Tobar-Bustamante 3 , Marcela Osores-Espinoza 3 , Carla Figueroa-Torres 3 , Catalina Rojas-Catejo 3 , Jorge Cisneros-Zamora 5



    AffiliationsAbstract

    Background Infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can lead to prolonged symptoms post-recovery, commonly known as long-term coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or "long COVID." Neuropsychiatric consequences of long COVID include cognitive dysfunction and sleep disturbances, which significantly impair daily living. This study aimed to explore the impact of long COVID on cognitive performance and sleep quality in patients receiving outpatient care. Material and methods This study involved a random sample of 138 of 363 patients, corresponding to 38% of the cohort, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) between May 2020 and April 2021. These unvaccinated, non-hospitalized individuals, predominantly exhibiting mild disease symptoms, were prospectively assessed 11 months post-positive PCR test. After informed consent, demographic data, memory, and concentration impairment levels were collected through interviews. Participants reporting cognitive symptoms underwent the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Statistical analyses were conducted, including Student's t-test, Chi-square, Fisher's test, Kruskal-Wallis test, and Pearson correlation coefficient, with a significance threshold set at p<0.05. Results Of the 138 participants, 76 (55.1%) were female and 62 (44.9%) were male. The mean age was 45.9 years (± 13.0), with an average educational attainment of 10.4 years (± 3.7). Roughly 50% of the patients reported significant memory and concentration issues (p<0.001). Thirty-three participants underwent detailed cognitive assessments, revealing a 2:1 female-to-male ratio and a significantly higher prevalence of depression in female participants. Cognitive deficits were diagnosed in five (15.2%) participants via the MMSE and in 26 (78.8%) via the MOCA test, with notable deficits in visuospatial/executive functions, language repeat, and deferred recall (p<0.001). A lower educational level was correlated with higher cognitive deficits (p=0.03). Conclusion The study findings reveal that cognitive impairments, as a consequence of COVID-19, can persist up to 11 months post-infection. The MOCA test proved more effective in diagnosing these deficits and requires adjustments based on educational background. Sleep parameters remained largely unaffected in this cohort, likely attributed to the mild nature of the initial symptoms and the outpatient management of the disease.

    Keywords: cognitive deficit; covid-19; long covid; mild symptoms; outpatient patients; sleep disorder.

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