Lifestyle Health COVID Increases Risk for Developing Neurological Conditions Within First Year After Infection, Study Finds Complications such as strokes, seizures, memory and movement disorders occurred 7% more in patients who had been infected with COVID than in similar, uninfected patients By Vanessa Etienne Vanessa Etienne Twitter Vanessa Etienne is an Emerging Content Writer-Reporter for PEOPLE. People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 23, 2022 02:19 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Getty Images People who have contracted COVID-19 are at higher risk for developing a number of neurological conditions within the first year after infection, according to a new study. A year-long study published Thursday in Nature Medicine analyzed about 14 million medical records in a database from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Evaluating 44 brain and other neurological disorders, researchers found that disorders occurred 7% more in patients who had been infected with COVID compared to similar patients who had never been infected. The team concluded that about 6.6 million Americans had brain impairments linked with their COVID infections. "We're seeing brain problems in previously healthy individuals and those who have had mild infections," Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, senior author and clinical epidemiologist at Washington University, said in a release. "It doesn't matter if you are young or old, female or male, or what your race is. It doesn't matter if you smoked or not, or if you had other unhealthy habits or conditions." RELATED VIDEO: 29-Year-Old Runner Shares Her Struggle with Long COVID: 'I'm a Different Person' Around 1 in 5 Americans May Develop Long COVID, Large CDC Study Finds Brain-related disorders included strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according to the report. Movement disorders were also symptoms of a post-COVID brain, including tremors, involuntary muscle contractions, epileptic seizures, hearing and vision abnormalities, and balance and coordination difficulties. The most common brain-related symptom was memory impairments, typically referred to as brain fog, where there was 77% higher risk for people who were infected with COVID. "Our study provides a comprehensive assessment of the long-term neurologic consequences of COVID-19," Al-Aly said. "Past studies have examined a narrower set of neurological outcomes, mostly in hospitalized patients. We evaluated 44 brain and other neurologic disorders among both non hospitalised and hospitalized patients, including those admitted to the intensive care unit. The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19. These are part and parcel of long COVID. The virus is not always as benign as some people think it is." Al-Aly noted that overall, COVID-19 has contributed to more than 40 million new cases of neurological disorders worldwide. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Earlier this year, a large study from the Centers for Disease Control found that Americans who survive COVID-19 are at a 20% likelihood of dealing with long COVID symptoms after their infection. Among adult survivors of COVID-19 under age 65, 1 in 5 continued to deal with at least one symptom of long COVID such as brain fog, blood clots, kidney failure, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems and muscular conditions. The risk of long COVID was even higher for virus survivors over age 65, with 1 in 4 dealing with lingering symptoms after their initial illness.