Led by researchers at New York University School of Medicine, this new study has also found higher levels of seven markers of brain damage (neurodegeneration) in COVID-19 patients who died in hospital than in people given de high.
This research was carried out for three months (from March to May 2020), but those in charge believe that more studies are necessary, in the long term, to be able to determine if people who have passed the most serious cases of COVID-19 have a increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future or if, instead, they recover over time.
One of the most concerning data from this new research conducted in the United States is that a subset of the brain damage markers detected in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, in the short term, were significantly higher than in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. .
“Our findings suggest that hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and especially those who experience neurological symptoms during their acute infection, may have levels of brain injury markers that are as high or higher than those seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients.” , cautions the lead author of this study, Jennifer A. Frontera, a professor in the Department of Neurology at New York University.
This research has analyzed the evolution of 251 patients, with a mean age of 70 years, but who had no history of symptoms of cognitive impairment or dementia before being hospitalized for COVID-19.
The research team compared the brain damage of this group of people with COVID-19 with those registered in another group of Alzheimer’s patients participating in another long-term study that is also now being carried out by a group of researchers from this American university center.
Specifically, the main measure of neurological damage detected in patients with COVID-19 was toxic metabolic encephalopathy, with symptoms ranging from confusion to coma, and which is caused during serious infections by toxins generated when the immune system reacts in a way exaggerated (sepsis), the kidneys fail (uremia) and the oxygen supply is compromised (hypoxia).
“This does not mean that a patient who has suffered a severe COVID with neurological damage will develop Alzheimer’s or a related dementia later, but it does increase the risk of suffering from it”, has also stressed another of those responsible for this research Thomas M. Wisniewski, director from the New York University Center for Cognitive Neurology.