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People over 65 who had COVID-19 at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease

The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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Old native american man wearing mask.
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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Over 65s who have had Covid increase their risk of getting Alzheimer's within a year by up to 80 percent, according to a shocking new study.

They are 50 to 80 percent more at risk of developing the form of dementia than those who haven't had the virus, say scientists.

The findings show that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease nearly doubled from 0.35 percent to 0.68 percent in older people in the year following their diagnosis.

What is more, women over 85 years old were the most at risk.

Although, researchers aren't certain whether COVID-19 triggers new development of Alzheimer’s disease or accelerates its emergence.

The research team analyzed the anonymous health records of 6.2 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States, who received medical treatment between February 2020 and May 2021.

The people they examined had no prior diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers split everyone into two groups. All the people in one group had previously contracted Covid, and the other had no documented cases of the virus.

Senior woman in quarantine mouthguard as a Covid-19 patient
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There were more than 400,000 people in the group who had had COVID-19 and 5.8 million in the other.

Dr. Pamela Davis, a research professor at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and co-author of the study 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.”

Dr. 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 team plans to continue studying the effects of COVID-19 on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

They aim to also focus on people who may be more vulnerable and find ways to repurpose FDA-approved drugs to treat COVID's long-term effects.

The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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