According to a neurologist, COVID-19 vaccines are just as safe for people with neurological diseases as for anyone else. This was announced by the press service of the Ministry of Health, and quoted Prof. Dimitar Maslarov, Head of the Clinic of Nervous Diseases at the University First Hospital “St. John the Baptist” in Sofia. According to him, immunization is even more useful for them because the disease of coronavirus infection has an unpredictable severity and outcome, BTA reported.
Until recently, it was thought that the blood-brain barrier prevented the virus from penetrating directly into the central nervous system. New evidence suggests that the virus may directly attack neurons, reduce blood flow to central nervous system structures, or trigger the production of immune molecules that damage brain cells.
Astrocytes are part of the cells that make up the brain. They supply nutrients to neurons and maintain normal brain function. Astrocytes can be vulnerable, even if they are not infected with the virus, and are likely to malfunction as a result of affecting gene expression. Infected astrocytes can explain some of the neurological syndromes such as fatigue, depression and “brain fog”.
Pericytes are cells found in the smallest blood vessels in the human body, including the brain. Experimental studies have shown that infection with COVID-19 blocks the function of receptors on the pericardium, thereby tightening the capillaries and reducing the blood supply to the area.
Among all known syndromes, acute encephalopathy is the most common neurological syndrome, occurring in 50 to 80 percent of patients. This percentage increases with age and in patients who are treated for a long time in intensive care. Prolonged stay in the intensive care unit can cause the development of encephalopathy, neuropathy and myopathy. Survivors of long-term intensive care should be evaluated on cognitive impairment, mental and / or physical impairment to prevent the so-called. “syndrome after intensive care”.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease should be vaccinated as a priority, as most adults are suffering from a neurodegenerative, progressive disease and have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease and an increased risk of death. Patients with multiple sclerosis should also be encouraged to be vaccinated after a personal assessment of the condition and self-medication. Sufferers of Huntington’s chorea, Parkinson’s disease or dementia are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections or pneumonia and are advised to strictly follow all anti-epidemic precautionary measures, says prof. Maslarov.
Patients with neuromuscular disorders, especially those affecting respiratory function, should limit their homes to prevent infection, as the impact of respiratory infection is expected to be more severe than on the general population.
Treatment with COVID-19 includes antiviral, immunomodulatory, and immunosuppressive agents, which may interact with certain antiepileptic drugs. Doses of these drugs need to be optimized.
Vaccination of patients should begin at the earliest possible time if they are not at the onset or exacerbation of the underlying neurological disease as one of the comorbidities. The decision when and with what preparation the vaccination will be performed should be after discussion with the treating neurologist and / or other specialist, advises prof. Maslarov.