Last Tuesday, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a new study finding a link between COVID-19 and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Participants in the study included 6,245,282 adults aged greater than or equal to 65 years and who had seen a medical doctor between February 2020 to May 2021— and did not have Alzheimer’s.
Just over 410,000 of the participants were diagnosed with COVID during this period. The study was conducted for a year to see if the findings of this research help understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on Alzheimer’s disease.
The study found those with COVID-19 were at a significantly increased risk for Alzheimer’s within 360 days after COVID-19 diagnosis— particularly in people greater than or equal to 85 years old and in women.
Age was not the only risk factor for developing the disease. Women’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s diagnosis after having COVID-19 were 82% higher, compared to 50% higher for men.
Those involved with the research were:
- Center for Science, Health, and Society: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio
- Center for Community Health Integration, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland
- The Center for Clinical Informatics Research and Education, The Metro Health System in Cleveland, Ohio
- The Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio
“We found the highest risk increase was observed in people older than 85 years old, and also women,” Senior Researcher Rong Xu, a professor of biomedical informatics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, told US News last week.
However, Gabriel de Erausquin, director of the Laboratory of Brain Development, Modulation and Repair at the University of Texas Health San Antonio, who was not involved in this study, said this research was “limited.”
“You have people who very much look like they have Alzheimer’s, but they do not have Alzheimer’s,” de Erausquin told The Washington Post last week, adding, “People who have long covid are at risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.”
According to de Erausquin, doctors often diagnose Alzheimer’s based on a behavior change or a particular response to a memory exam. Per his findings, a more accurate way to diagnose Alzheimer’s is through imaging or spinal fluid tests, which measure two abnormally amassing proteins in the brains of those developing Alzheimer’s.
As far as the study goes, young people diagnosed with COVID-19 should not fear developing Alzheimer’s.
For more information about COVID-19 and treatment options, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html or speak with your health care provider.