Long Covid can cause memory problems. Does it increase Alzheimer’s risk?

Researchers have discovered that the coronavirus can continue to cause brain damage even after the virus has been eradicated.

Rachel Bean was diagnose as asymptomatic when she test positive for Covid-19 in May 2020. She was short of breath a few weeks earlier, but she attributed it to pandemic panic or getting used to wearing a mask. The symptoms began to appear over the next few months.

Bean, 34, from Minneapolis, struggled to eat in July after losing her sense of smell and taste. She was experiencing heart palpitations. Bean’s symptoms were intermittent, but by January, she was forced to take a 3-month leave of absence from her work at a harm-reduction housing program. She was enrolled in a post-Covid clinic where she worked closely with a team of therapists, regaining some of her lost fine motor skills. Cognitive tests revealed that Bean was processing information slower than she used to.

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Bean makes driving mistakes even after a mild case. She sometimes forgets names and puts frozen food into the kitchen cabinets. She often asks people to repeat the names of items she cannot remember when she speaks.

The symptoms of Covid-19 are very similar to those that have been around for a much longer time: Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are only beginning to understand how Covid-19 affects the body over time. However, this disease can cause cognitive impairment, even in mild cases. Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Denver on Thursday examined whether the changes are linked to Alzheimer’s. In one study, the loss of smell was linked to symptoms related to cognitive function. One study found that the same biomarkers which indicate brain damage or Alzheimer’s disease are also present in Covid patients who have memory loss.

Heather Snyder, Vice President of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said: “We do not know if Covid-19 causes Alzheimer’s.” We know that people who experience persistent memory changes, brain injury, and disease markers, such as loss of smell after taking Covid-19, have also experienced persistent changes. We must continue monitoring these patients to understand the long-term effects and determine whether they worsen, stay the same, or improve.

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The long-term cognitive symptoms of Covid-19 vary with age. According to Dr. Gabriel de Erausquin, Director of the Laboratory of Brain Development, Modulation, and Repair at the Glenn Biggs Institute of Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disorders, San Antonio, memory loss and speech problems are more prevalent in older people.

According to a new study on Thursday, people with cognitive impairment who lose their senses of smell may experience memory loss, speech difficulties, or other problems. The loss of smell can also predict the severity of brain damage and cognitive decline for people with Alzheimer’s.

De Erausquin is the research leader for a growing group of more than 300 Argentines aged 60 and older with Covid-19.

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This connection is likely due to a brain part called the olfactory bulbs, which process smell. The olfactory bulbs also signal other brain parts involved in emotions, memory, and learning. Research has shown this to be the entry point for the coronavirus, and people lose their sense of smell because of it. However, the virus does not need to reach the brain to affect the bulb. Memory loss or speech problems may instead result from the body’s inflammatory reaction to the virus.

Previous research showed that those with Covid-19 at a higher level were at greater risk of cognitive impairment. However, only 10% of patients in Argentina were hospitalized, and 50% suffered from cognitive impairment. This suggests that the severity at which the disease is diagnosed does not affect the long-term consequences. In a new study published on Thursday in JAMA Network Open by Norwegian researchers, 12 percent of patients reported persistent concentration problems eight months after receiving Covid-19. One in eleven people had persistent memory problems.

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The actual illness lasts for about two weeks. However, after the virus has been removed, the people have not recovered, said Feixiong Chang, an assistant staff member at the Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute who was not involved in the new research. “Covid-19 triggers biological processes that may have long-term effects, even for people with mild symptoms or no symptoms.”

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New York University doctors presented another preliminary study focusing on blood markers at the conference. The researchers found that Covid patients with cognitive impairment (most common confusion) had biomarkers indicative of brain injury, neuroinflammation, and Alzheimer’s. Researchers said that they believed the biomarkers could be linked to inflammation of the blood-brain barriers caused by Covid-19. They said in a press release that further research was needed to determine if those patients were at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s later on.

Cheng was the lead author of a study that appeared in the last issue of Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy. The study also showed that biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia were found in Covid patients recovering from cognitive impairment.

De Erausquin stated, “Covid-19 increases the likelihood of cognitive impairment but, for all we can tell, people could improve over time.” “This coincidence still makes us suspect that Covid-19 could be speeding up the biological brain processes that lead to Alzheimer’s over the next 10 to 20 year period,” de Erausquin said.ff

Covid’s impact on the brain is concerning, especially given the number of cases reported worldwide.

“Most people with Covid-19 don’t end up in ICUs, but many still have cognitive impairments that impact their lives, which is very worrying,” Dr. Wes Ely, the co-director of Critical Illness, Brain Disorders and Survivorship at Vanderbilt University, said. It creates disability in patients that never become very sick.