Dementia and other cognitive disorders linked to severe Covid-19, study suggests

  • Results from a new study suggest that cognitive disorders are associated with Covid-19 hospitalisation
  • The researchers analysed data from nearly 1 000 disorders and two specific genes linked to SARS-CoV-2
  • Since research on the topic is limited, they encourage further studies about Covid-19 and cognitive conditions

New research from the University of Georgia suggests that cognitive disorders, including dementia, may be risk factors for developing severe Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, was published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

The researchers used data from the UK Biobank, involving over 500 000 participants. The data of the participants with Covid-19 started being gathered in March this year, at the beginning of the pandemic in the US.

According to the researchers, their findings stress the need for special care for people with preexisting cognitive disorders during the pandemic.

Analysing data

In their study, the team analysed data from an extensive list of 974 medical conditions and 30 blood biomarkers, and their association with Covid-19.

Additionally, they also tested the association of genetic variants in two key genes related to SARS-CoV-2 infection – angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) – with Covid-19 or any other phenotypes.

ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are known to be critical for SARS-CoV-2 to enter into human cells.

Top risk factors

“Our extensive search identified pre-existing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as top risk factors for hospital admission due to Covid-19, highlighting the importance of providing special protective care for patients with cognitive disorders during this pandemic,” they wrote.

Dementia, the authors note, affects more than 40 million people worldwide. Other risk factors for severe disease, they added, include other general cognitive disorders and type 2 diabetes.

They believe that their results should encourage further research into the special needs of patients with these cognitive conditions.

“Given the different risks faced by elderly living with different styles, a more comprehensive strategy with precise approaches of primary prevention may be desirable during this and similar pandemics,” they said.

READ | Do your sleep patterns affect your risk of Alzheimer's disease?

READ | Covid-19: Antibody levels ‘waning quite rapidly’ after infection, new study finds

READ | Clues to why women have higher odds for Alzheimer's

Image: Getty/Miguel Navarro

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