The risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases by 50-80% in older adults who have had COVID-19

Summary: The risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults nearly doubled within the one-year period after contracting COVID-19.

source: Case Western Reserve

Older adults who have contracted the COVID-19 virus show a much higher risk — up to 50% to 80% higher than a control group — of developing Alzheimer’s disease within a year, according to a study of more than 6 million patients 65 years of age or older.

In a study published today in Alzheimer’s Disease Journal, researchers report that people 65 and older who have had COVID-19 were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in the year following a COVID diagnosis. The highest risk was observed in women at least 85 years old.

The results showed that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly nearly doubled (0.35% to 0.68%) during the one-year period after infection with the COVID virus. Researchers say it’s unclear whether COVID-19 leads to a new development of Alzheimer’s disease or accelerates its onset.

Pamela Davis, MD, Distinguished University Professor and The Arline H. and Curtis F. Research Professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, co-author of the study.

“Because SARS-CoV2 infection has been associated with central nervous system abnormalities including inflammation, we wanted to test whether COVID, even in the short term, could lead to increased diagnosis,” she said.

The research team analyzed the anonymized electronic health records of 6.2 million adults 65 years of age or older in the United States who received medical treatment between February 2020 and May 2021 and did not have a prior diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

They then divided this population into two groups: one made up of people who had COVID-19 during that time, and another with people who had no documented cases of COVID-19. More than 400,000 people were enrolled in the COVID study group, while 5.8 million were in the uninfected group.

This shows an old man wearing a face mask
Researchers say it’s unclear whether COVID-19 leads to a new development of Alzheimer’s disease or accelerates its onset. The image is in the public domain

“If this increase in new diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease continues, the wave of patients with currently incurable disease will be large, and it could further strain our long-term care resources,” Davis said.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and challenging disease, and we thought we had managed to beat it by reducing general risk factors such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

“Now, many people in the United States have contracted COVID and the long-term consequences of COVID are still unfolding. It is important to continue to monitor the impact of this disease on disability in the future.”

Rong Shu, co-author of the study, professor of biomedical informatics at the College of Medicine and director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, said the team plans to continue studying the effects of COVID-19 on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders — particularly which subpopulations may be more susceptible. And the potential for reuse of FDA-approved drugs to treat the long-term effects of COVID.

Previous COVID studies led by CWRU found that people with dementia are twice as likely to develop COVID; Those with substance use disorder warrants are more likely to contract COVID; And that 5% of people who took baxlovid to treat symptoms of coronavirus developed a rebound infection within a month.

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About this aging, COVID-19, and Alzheimer’s research news

author: Megan Han
source: Case Western Reserve
Contact: Megan Hahn – Case Western Reserve
picture: The image is in the public domain

original search: open access.
COVID-19 linked to new Alzheimer’s diseaseWritten by Pamela Davis et al. Alzheimer’s Disease Journal


COVID-19 linked to new Alzheimer’s disease

The infectious etiology of Alzheimer’s disease has been hypothesized for decades. It is still not known if SARS-CoV-2 viral infection is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In this retrospective cohort study of 6,245,282 older adults (under 65 years of age) who had medical encounters between 2/2020-5/2021, we show that people with COVID-19 were at significantly increased risk for a new diagnosis. For Alzheimer’s disease within 360 days after initial diagnosis of COVID-19 (hazard ratio or HR: 1.69, 95% CI: 1.53-1.72), especially in people under 85 years of age and in women.

Our findings call for research to understand the underlying mechanisms and ongoing monitoring of the long-term effects of COVID-19 on Alzheimer’s disease.

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