Monday, September 19, 2022

COVID-19 Infection Associated With Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s

Older adults infected with COVID-19 are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease over the following year, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The greatest risk of Alzheimer’s following infection was in women and adults 85 and up.

“An infectious etiology of Alzheimer’s disease has been postulated for decades, and despite supportive evidence, it is still controversial,” wrote Lindsey Wang of Case Western Reserve University, Nora Volkow, M.D., of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues. The researchers noted that COVID-19 infection is associated with long-term neurological effects including memory problems in some people, so the virus may trigger or accelerate Alzheimer’s pathology.

The researchers used the TriNetX platform to analyze de-identified electronic health record data from over 95 million patients across 68 health care organizations. Their study included 6,245,282 adults aged 65 and up who were Alzheimer’s free and had health care visits between February 2, 2020, and May 30, 2021. Of this group, 410,748 adults contracted COVID-19 during this period. The researchers examined risks in both groups for a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in all older adults, as well as subgroups based on sex, age (65–74, 75–84, ≥85), and race/ethnicity (Black, White, and Hispanic).

After adjusting for many variables, the researchers found that older adults who contracted COVID-19 had a 69% increased risk of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis within 360 days of their infection. A statistically increased risk of Alzheimer’s was seen in all age groups, both sexes, Black adults, and White adults; no association was found for Hispanic adults. The highest risk of Alzheimer’s was found in adults aged 85 and older (89% increased risk) and women (82% increased risk).

“Our findings call for research to understand the underlying mechanisms and for continuous surveillance of long-term impacts of COVID-19 on Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers wrote.

To read more on this topic, see the Psychiatric News article “Cognitive Impact of COVID-19 Lasts Months.”

(Image: iStock/2K Studio)

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