July 12, 2022

Risk of Hospitalization and Death for COVID-19 in Persons with Epilepsy Over a 20-Month Period: the EpiLink Bologna Cohort, Italy

Abstract found on Wiley Online Libary

Objective: Data on COVID-19 outcomes in persons with epilepsy (PWE) are scarce and inconclusive. We aimed to study the risk of hospitalization and death for COVID-19 in a large cohort of PWE from 01 March 2020 to 31 October 2021.

Methods: Historical cohort design (EpiLink Bologna), comparing adult PWE grouped in people with focal epilepsy (PFE), idiopathic generalized epilepsy (PIGE), developmental and/or epileptic encephalopathy (PDEE), and a matched population cohort (ratio 1:10) for age, sex, residence, and comorbidity (assessed with the multisource comorbidity score), living in the local health trust of Bologna (about 800,000 residents). Clinical data were linked to health administrative data.

Results: In both cohorts (EpiLink N=1,576 subjects, 1128 PFE, 267 PIGE, 148 PDEE, 32 other, controls N=15,326 subjects), 52% were females, and the mean age was 50?years (SD 18). Hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the whole period were 49 (3.1%) in PWE and 225 (1.5%) in controls. The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) in PWE was 1.9 (95% CI 1.4-2.7). The subgroups at higher risk were PFE (aHR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3-2.8) and PDEE (aHR 3.9, 95% CI 1.7- 8.7), while PIGE had a risk comparable to the controls (aHR 1.1, 95% CI 0.3-3.5). Stratified analyses of the two main epidemic waves (March-May 2020, October 2020–May 2021) disclosed a higher risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization during the first epidemic wave (March-May 2020) (aHR 3.8, 95% CI 2.2-6.7). Polytherapy with antiseizure medications contributed to a higher risk of hospital admission. 30-day risk of death after hospitalization was 14% both in PWE and controls.

Significance: During the first 20 months since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Bologna, PWE had a doubled risk of COVID-19 hospital admission compared to a matched control population. Conversely, epilepsy did not represent a risk factor for COVID-19-related death.