COVID-19 linked to early Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Decades of evidence from other respiratory viruses, along with observations of patients in recent months, suggests such infections may increase a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders, according to a paper announcing the study, published [January 5] in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The paper called the coronavirus pandemic “a unique — if unwelcome — opportunity” to study the effects of respiratory virus infection on the brains of covid-19 survivors.

Scientists from nearly 40 countries have signed on, and researchers hope to enroll about 40,000 participants.

In the year since the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, doctors have noted lingering post-recovery conditions ranging from brain fog and forgetfulness to anxiety, depression, and psychosis.

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“Abnormal brain imaging has emerged as a major feature of COVID-19 from all parts of the world,” the paper said.

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Although there is some evidence that getting flu and pneumonia vaccines may protect against cognitive problems, it is not clear whether a coronavirus vaccine could have helpful or deleterious cognitive associations.

“I wish I knew the answer to that, because I already have the vaccine,” de Erausquin said. “We don’t know yet.”

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