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Spike in brain diseases post Covid : Doctors

- Vinod Kumar

Covid has significantly impacted the incidence of various brain diseases in India and its full effects are going to be visible in the coming years,  Doctors have reported seeing a significant surge in cases of brain disorders like brain strokes and benign brain tumors after the Covid pandemic. 

Said Dr. Kamal Verma, Director, Neurosurgery, Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector 8, Faridabad: “Covid is a new disease that has affected all parts of the body, including the brain. We are seeing an increase in incidence of diseases that were not very common earlier. We are witnessing a significant increase in brain stroke patients. Its incidence in the younger population has increased after Covid by 5-10 percent. Other diseases of the brain like autoimmune diseases like the Guillain-Barré syndrome and paralysis have also seen a significant spike after the onset of Covid. In addition, we are seeing large number of patients with brain tumors in the last two years, whose number was not very significant before Covid.”


He added: “The effect of long Covid on brain is now manifesting itself, even though it is early days since the pandemic abated. It will be a few years before its full impact on the human body is understood and the reasons for the spike in various brain disorders positively corelated with Covid.”


Common brain diseases that in India can be divided into those caused by infections such as meningitis, viral diseases and tuberculosis of the brain, etc. and others including brain strokes, brain tumors, abnormalities like aneurism. Children too can suffer from brain diseases including tumors and birth defects. Around one lakh brain tumors are diagnosed every year in India, which is the highest in the world. Strokes too have a very high incidence, with three to four brain strokes occurring every minute in India.


Dr. Kamal Verma said: “Cases of brain tumor and brain strokes have increased significantly in recent times, compared to brain diseases caused by infection. Lifestyle diseases like uncontrolled blood pressure and diabetes are driving the incidence of brain strokes. The population of elderly people is also rising who are more susceptible to brain stroke due to old age. Another trend we are witnessing is an increase in the number of brain tumor patients who require surgery.”


Dr. Kamal Verma laid down three main risk factors for brain diseases, including smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and blood pressure. “Smoking is a major risk factor. When we smoke, our blood vessels become narrow, adversely affecting blood supply to the brain, leading to a stroke. Uncontrolled diabetes is also a major cause of brain stroke. India is considered the diabetes capital of the world, leading to a high incidence of brain strokes. High blood pressure can cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to the brain. They can block blood flow and cause a stroke.”


Dr. Kamal Verma added: “People’s lifestyle has been changing from physical activity to desk jobs and lack of exercise. The concept of preventive health does not exist in India. People do not visit a doctor for routine check-ups till they have a health problem. They do not keep their blood pressure and blood sugar controlled. This has increased the risk of brain strokes. Brain is the most important organ of the body. Just like we try to keep our body healthy, we have to learn to keep our brain healthy too by reducing the risk factors that can lead to brain diseases.”

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