COVID-19 and Neurocognitive Disorders

Elizabeta B. Mukaetova-Ladinska; Golo Kronenberg; Ruma Raha-Chowdhury


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2021;34(2):149-156. 

In This Article

Delirium in Older Patients With COVID-19

Delirium is known to be a common presenting symptom for older adults with severe disease in the emergency department but goes undetected in two-thirds of cases.[17] Delirium is an acute state of confusion characterized by altered level of consciousness, disorientation, inattention and other cognitive disturbances. It commonly affects older persons and is associated with adverse outcomes, including prolonged hospitalization and death.[18] Under-detection of delirium during COVID-19 infection may also contribute to the rise of NCD irrespective of the infectious agents, that is SARS-CoV-2 or other untreated medical conditions due to the access to medical care, or being undetected as it is the case for hypoactive delirium.[19]

Most of the published evidence on delirium in COVID-19 infection relates to older people, and then predominantly for those presenting with overt, hyperactive delirium. In contrast, reports for delirium incidence and its characteristics in younger people are missing, similarly to those for hypoactive and subsyndromal delirium in both young and older people.[2] Bearing in mind that delirium can result in delayed neurocognitive recovery for up to 1.5 years post serious physical illness,[20] it is imperative to be timely diagnosed to prevent long-term poor neurocognitive outcomes.