Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found evidence to suggest that severe COVID-19 infections could lead to symptoms of aging in parts of the brain.
In their study, the researchers analyzed brain tissue samples from deceased patients who had experienced severe COVID-19 symptoms.
They compared these samples with samples from people who had died but had never had COVID-19, and with a control group of people who had died from other causes after being put on a respirator.
The researchers found that the COVID-19 patients had evidence of gene activation in the brain associated with inflammation, which was more common in these patients than in either of the other two groups.
Additionally, genes associated with cognition and forming connections between cells in the brain were less active in COVID-19 patients.
The researchers also compared the brain samples of the COVID-19 patients with another group of people who had died of other causes, some of whom were over 71 years old.
They found similarities between the changes in gene activity in COVID-19 patients and those who were over age 71.
The researchers acknowledged that their work is just a starting point for understanding the link between COVID-19 infections and premature brain aging.
They noted that more studies are needed to explore this connection further.
They also noted that the inflammatory changes in the brain may have been due to the inflammation caused by the infection, rather than the virus itself.
This research is significant because it sheds light on another potential long-term effect of severe COVID-19 infections.
As the pandemic continues, researchers are continuing to study the impacts of the virus on various aspects of human health.
This new study provides important insights into the possible neurological consequences of severe COVID-19 infections.
How to prevent brain aging
There are several ways to help prevent brain aging and maintain cognitive function throughout life. Here are some tips:
Stay physically active: Regular exercise can help improve blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells, which can help prevent brain aging.
Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide the nutrients your brain needs to function properly and may help protect against age-related cognitive decline.
Get enough sleep: Quality sleep is important for brain health, and getting enough restful sleep can help keep your brain functioning at its best.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can damage brain cells and increase the risk of cognitive decline. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques, can help protect your brain.
Stay mentally active: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, playing games, or learning a new skill, can help keep your brain sharp and may help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Stay socially connected: Social interaction can help improve cognitive function and may help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Maintaining social connections through activities such as volunteering, joining a club or group, or spending time with friends and family can help keep your brain healthy.
Protect your brain: Taking steps to protect your brain from injury, such as wearing a helmet when biking or engaging in other high-risk activities, can help prevent cognitive decline later in life.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome, and zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and how alcohol, coffee, and tea intake influence cognitive decline.
The study was conducted by Maria Mavrikaki et al and published in Nature Aging.
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