Washington: Older people infected with COVID-19 have a 50-80 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease within a year, according to a study of more than six million patients in the US. Research published Wednesday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that women who were at least 85 years old were at highest risk of the disorder. The researchers said that it is not clear whether COVID-19 triggers the new development of Alzheimer’s disease or accelerates its emergence.
Pamela Davis, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, US, said, “The factors that play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease are poorly understood, but the two pieces thought to be important are prior infection, particularly viral infection and inflammation. “
“Since infection with SARS-CoV-2 is associated with abnormalities of the central nervous system, including inflammation, we wanted to test whether, even in the short term, COVID could lead to increased prognosis,” she said.
Researchers analyzed the anonymous electronic health records of 6.2 million adults aged 65 and older in the US who received medical treatment between February 2020 and May 2021 and had no prior diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. They then divided this population into two groups: one made up of people who contracted COVID-19 during that period, and the other with people who had no documented cases of COVID-19.
Over 400,000 people were enrolled in the COVID-19 study group, while 5.8 million were in the non-infected group. “If this increase in new diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease continues, the wave of patients with the disease currently without treatment will be substantial, and could further strain our long-term care resources,” Davis said. “Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and challenging disease, and we thought we had turned some of the tide on it by reducing common risk factors such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle,” she said.