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Dementia currently targets tens of millions of people, with this trend showing no signs of slowing down. While your risk of this mind-robbing condition can be modified, a new study has discovered a risk factor that might be hard to avoid – Covid.
A Covid brain is a term often used to describe a mind that feels sluggish and fuzzy following an infection. Researchers have previously also linked the virus to a greater cognitive decline. However, the new study shows that older people could be faced with a far more significant risk.
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Those who battled Covid could have a 50 to 80 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the year after the infection.
This is the suggestion of new research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Looking at more than six million patients aged 65 and older, the researchers noticed that older people infected with COVID-19 were more prone to the brain condition.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia that affects multiple brain functions, according to the NHS.
The research showed that the risk for developing this dementia type nearly doubled in older people.
The research team explained that it’s currently unclear whether the virus triggers new Alzheimer’s disease or merely accelerates its emergence.
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Pamela Davis, the study’s co-author said: “The factors that play into the development of Alzheimer’s disease have been poorly understood, but two pieces considered important are prior infections, especially viral infections, and inflammation.
“Since infection with SARS-CoV2 has been associated with central nervous system abnormalities including inflammation, we wanted to test whether, even in the short term, COVID could lead to increased diagnoses.”
The team looked at health records of 6.2 million adults from the United States who had no prior diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
They divided the subjects into two groups: those who had confirmed diagnosis of Covid and those who didn’t.
More than 400,000 people were enrolled in the coronavirus group, while 5.8 million made the non-infected group.
The researchers concluded that those who overcame the virus had a 50 to 80 percent higher risk of developing dementia in the following year.
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Furthermore, the highest risk was observed in women who were at least 85 years old.
Davis added: “If this increase in new diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease is sustained, the wave of patients with a disease currently without a cure will be substantial, and could further strain our long-term care resources.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and challenging disease, and we thought we had turned some of the tide on it by reducing general risk factors such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
“Now, so many people in the U.S. have had COVID and the long-term consequences of COVID are still emerging.
“It is important to continue to monitor the impact of this disease on future disability.”
The researchers now plan to continue studying the effects of Covid on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Previously, a study published in the journal Nature, has compared the brain scans of people before and after they had coronavirus, finding a greater cognitive decline in those with the virus.
Considered one of the earliest symptoms of dementia, cognitive decline describes worsening or more frequent confusion and memory loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As there’s still much unknown about Covid, scientists and researchers continue to study the long-term impacts of the virus on the brain.
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