Exacerbation of neurological symptoms and COVID-19 severity in patients with preexisting neurological disorders and COVID-19: A systematic review

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2021 Jan;200:106349. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2020.106349. Epub 2020 Nov 1.


Background: Patients with chronic diseases likely develop severe 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, little is known about the effects of COVID-19 on patients with neurological disorders. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the severity of COVID-19 and its effect on neurological symptoms in patients with preexisting neurological disorder and COVID-19.

Methods: We searched the MEDLINE (PubMed) and medRxiv databases for reports of patients with both preexisting neurological disorders and COVID-19. Studies reporting data on changes in the symptoms of preexisting neurological disorders and/or the severity of COVID-19 were included.

Results: Twenty-six articles with 2278 patients with preexisting neurological disorder and COVID-19 were identified. Of 232 patients, 74 (31.9 %) showed exacerbation of preexisting neurological symptoms of dementia (55/92; 59.5 %), Parkinson's disease (10/17; 58.8 %), epilepsy (1/1; 100 %), and unspecified neurological disorders (8/106; 7.5 %). Of 2168 patients, 478 (22.0 %) showed severe COVID-19 course. These included patients with cerebrovascular disease (86/445; 19.3 %), dementia (70/316; 22.2 %), Parkinson's disease (25/214; 11.7 %), multiple sclerosis (28/71; 39.4 %), spinal cord injury (5/7; 71.4 %), epilepsy (10/98; 10.2 %) and unspecified neurological disorders (254/1011; 25 %).

Conclusions: Patients with preexisting neurological disorders and COVID-19 may develop exacerbation of neurological symptoms and severe COVID-19. Clinicians should be aware of the risk of symptom exacerbation and severe COVID-19 in patients with preexisting neurological disease and should focus on the prevention and early care of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Epilepsy; Neurological disorder; Neurology; Review; Systematic.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Progression*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Preexisting Condition Coverage