Older people who have been infected with covid-19 have a “substantially higher” risk of developing Alzheimer’s within a year, something observed by a team of researchers especially among women aged at least 85 years.
The research, published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Diseasewas carried out with patients over 65 years of age and indicates that the risk of developing this disease is between 50% and 80% higher in people who have had covid-19 than in those who have not been infected.
Scientists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (United States) analyzed medical records of more than six million patients and found that the greatest risk was observed in women aged at least 85 years.
The researchers note that it is not clear whether Covid-19 infection triggers a new development of Alzheimer’s disease or accelerates its onset.
The factors that interfere in the development of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet well understood, but there are two elements considered important: previous infections, mainly viral, and inflammation.
As SARS-CoV2 infection was associated with central nervous system abnormalities, including inflammation, this team wanted to understand whether, “even in the short term, covid-19 could lead to an increase in diagnoses”, explains Pamela Davis, one of the authors of the study, cited in a university press release.
The team analyzed the medical records of 6.2 million 65-year-olds who received medical treatment between February 2020 and May 2021 and did not have a previous diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Among this group of people, more than 400,000 had had covid-19.
Alzheimer’s disease is “a serious and challenging disease, and we thought we had it under control by reducing general risk factors such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle,” she added.
But now, the long-term consequences of covid-19 are still emerging, so “it is important to continue to monitor the impact of this disease on future disability”.