Brain damage could be severer in COVID-19 than in Alzheimer’s disease

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Scientists from NYU Grossman School of Medicine found people hospitalized for COVID-19 had higher levels of neurological damage than non-COVID-19 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The research is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia and was conducted by Jennifer A. Frontera et al.

In the study, the team found higher levels of seven markers of brain damage (neurodegeneration) in COVID-19 patients with neurological symptoms than in those without them and much higher levels in patients that died in the hospital than in those discharged and sent home.

A second analysis found that a subset of the damage markers in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, over the short term were much higher than in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and in one case more than twice as high.

The findings suggest that patients hospitalized for COVID-19, and especially in those experiencing neurological symptoms during their acute infection, may have levels of brain injury markers that are as high as, or higher than, those seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, the team examined 251 patients who, although 71 years of age on average, had no record or symptoms of cognitive decline or dementia before being hospitalized for COVID-19.

These patients were then divided into groups with and without neurological symptoms during their acute COVID-19 infection, when patients either recovered and were discharged, or died.

The research team also compared marker levels in the COVID-19 group to patients in the NYU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center study.

None of these 161 control patients (54 cognitively normal, 54 with mild cognitive impairment, and 53 diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease) had COVID-19.

The team says traumatic brain injury, which is also associated with increases in these biomarkers, does not mean that a patient will develop Alzheimer’s or related dementia later on, but does increase the risk of it.

Whether that kind of link exists in those who survive severe COVID-19 is a question we urgently need to answer with ongoing monitoring of these patients.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about drug that could lower death risk caused by COVID-19, and who has the highest risk of heart damage in COVID-19.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about drug that could reduce obesity, fatty liver, improve heart function, and results showing scientists find the key to curing COVID-19.

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