News: COVID-19 linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk, study finds

CDI Strategies - Volume 16, Issue 43

In an observational retrospective study, people aged 65 years or older were found to have a 50-80% risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) after having COVID-19. The new study, which was recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, noted that the risk was especially high for women and those 85 years or older. This coincides with earlier research that points to a potential link between COVID-19 and increased risk for AD and Parkinson’s disease, Medscape Medical News reported.

Researchers analyzed anonymous electronic health records of 6.2 million adults aged 65 years or older, who received medical treatment between February 2020 and May 2021 and had never been diagnosed with AD before. They did state in their findings, however, that the study does not offer evidence that COVID-19 causes AD, but may have a connection. Possible theories included that a viral etiology could be at play, inflammation in neural tissue from the SARS-CoV-2 infection may connect the two, or exposure to the healthcare system for COVID-19 simply increased the odds of detection in existing undiagnosed AD cases.

Regardless, these findings may indicate a potential increase in AD cases that should be a cause of concern, Pamela Davis, MD, PhD, professor in the Center for Community Health Integration at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, said to Medscape Medical News. “COVID may be giving us a legacy of ongoing medical difficulties. We were already concerned about having a very large care burden and cost burden from Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. “If this is another burden that’s increased by COVID, this is something we’re really going to have to prepare for.”

Editor’s note: To read Medscape Medical News’ coverage of this story, click here. To read the full study, click here.

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