New research findings presented at a conference suggest that those who had COVID-19 are at increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Researchers from Denmark shared the finding today (Friday 24 June) at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Congress in Vienna.
In previous research, separate to this study, scientists suggested that almost a third (32 of every 100) of older adults infected with COVID-19 in 2020 developed at least one new condition that required medical attention in the months after initial infection.
In another separate research study, scientists have linked COVID-19 and highlighted a link between cases of COVID-19 that include neurological symptoms with biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
An announcement from the conference reports that researchers looked at the health records of people in Denmark. They found that those who had tested positive for COVID-19 were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ischaemic stroke.
Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on people with dementia, their carers and their families. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia is caused by a complex mix of age, genetics and other environmental factors.
“This research suggests that having COVID-19 is linked to an increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, however this was no stronger than the link to other respiratory diseases like the flu. Diseases like Alzheimer’s develop in the brain over many years and COVID-19 has only been present in Europe since early 2020. It may be that people in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s are more susceptible to catching diseases like COVID-19. While the announcement of these findings is potentially concerning, we will need to see results of this study in a peer-reviewed publication before we can draw any real conclusions from this research.
“Relatively little is known about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on brain health, and Alzheimer’s Research UK remains committed to monitoring the emerging evidence in this space. If anyone is worried about their memory and thinking, or long-term effects of COVID-19, they should consult with their doctor.”