In research at the AAIC2021, scientists have discovered links between COVID-19 and various cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s disease. The research has paved a way for future longitudinal and wider scope of research to examine the link between coronavirus and its neurological effects.
Studies Link Covid-19 With Alzheimer’s Disease
It is a widely known fact that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. Its symptoms include cough, fever, cold, and if severe, it can cause low levels of oxygen and death. The world was unknown to what and how the virus worked, but after prolonged studies, medical science is now able to answer a fraction of more questions than it used to. There are now many medications and treatments available to physicians. However, these symptoms are not just it.
As the pandemic continued for a yet second year, it was discovered that many people, even months after the onset of the infection, continued experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19. This came to be known as long COVID-19.
According to Government Medical College’s Dr. A V Raveendran, the symptoms of long COVID-19 include joint pain, rashes, hair loss, weakness, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, neurocognitive issues, and myalgia. Researchers at the AAIC 2021 presented studies focusing on long COVID-19’s effects on the neurology of people.
According to Alzheimer’s Association vice president of medical and scientific relations, Dr. Heather M Snyder, the new data found a direct link of COVID-19 causing cognitive impairment. Heather said that there have been more than 190 million cases and 4 million devastating deaths throughout the world. She said that it was imperative to carry out more research, and the Alzheimer’s Association and their partners are researching but more trials are needed.
The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Dr. Gabriel De Erausquin, who is also a colleague of the Alzheimer’s Association’s study on the link between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s, studied Amerindians from Argentina patient’s neurological issues, who have recovered from COVID-19.
The 300 people who participated were examined for three to six months after contracting COVID-19. The researchers discovered that a majority of participants were struggling with forgetfulness and around 25% experienced language issues. The researchers observed a link between loss of smell and cognition.
Dr. Erausquin said that they are beginning to see a direct connection between COVID-19 and cognition problems, months after infection. It was imperative to continue the study for a longer period, to understand the long-lasting COVID-19 impact on neurology.
New potential links were discovered between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease by New York University Grossman School of Medicine’s Prof Thomas M Wisniewski, who is a professor of pathology, neurology, and psychiatry. He and his companion researchers studied blood plasma from 310 patients admitted to hospitals because of COVID-19 infection. Out of those 310 patients, 158 experienced neurological symptoms, most commonly confusion. The remaining 152 did not.
Patients who had no history of cognitive problems prior to contracting the COVID-19 infection, and developed it afterward, had a number of biological markers associated with brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuroinflammation. These consisted of phosphorylated tau, glial fibrillary, neurofilament light, and ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase L1.
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Prof. Wisniewski explained that these studies suggested that patients who contracted COVID-19 may have speeded up Alzheimer-related symptoms. Still, thorough research was needed to see how these affect cognition in individuals.
Researchers also suggested a relationship between COVID-19 and blood oxygen levels. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Thessaly, Dr. George D Vavougios, and his colleagues enrolled 32 patients who contracted COVID-19 and were discharged two months later. The majority of them had cognitive issues, including memory impairment. The condition worsened with older people.
Dr. Vavougios explained that a brain that is deprived of oxygen is not a healthy brain. If it is deprived continuously, severe damage can be experienced. Experts say that what the world needs is a detailed study on this topic, only then we can understand it discreetly.