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Research: 'Long COVID' cognitive issues align with Alzheimer's symptoms

New research: genetic markers show shared neuroinflammation
covid brain impact
Posted at 11:30 AM, Sep 30, 2021

Researchers have presented findings at the 2021 Alzheimer's Association International Conference that connects long-term COVID-19 symptoms and Alzheimer's disease.

Long COVID symptoms are considered to be lasting effects on the virus on a person's body beyond four weeks of exposure. Mayo Clinic staff writes that "[o]lder people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection."

A study published Tuesday by the University of Oxford and National Institute for Health Research indicates that 36% of the patients studied were experiencing long COVID symptoms 3-6 months after diagnosis. Earlier studies only estimated 10-30% of patients COVID-19 survivors experienced long COVID symptoms.

Symptoms include memory and concentration problems pointing to cognitive and neurological issues, anecdotally referred to as "brain fog." Reserch presented at the 2021 AAIC not only confirmed these findings but connects them to Alzheimer's disease.

Professor Thomas Wisniewski studies neurology, pathology, and psychiatry at New York University Grossman School of Medicine and presented his study on possible connections between COVID-19 and clinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease at the conference.

By examining blood plasma samples from 310 people who were hospitalized with COVID-19, researchers found that 50.9% experienced neurological symptoms, usually heightened confusion. When analyzing those patients that did develop cognitive issues from COVID-19, scientists saw "an increase in biological markers associated with Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, and neuroinflammation, compared with the patients who did not have neurological symptoms," according to Medical News Today.

“These findings suggest that patients who had COVID-19 may have an acceleration of Alzheimer’s-related symptoms and pathology. However, more longitudinal research is needed to study how these biomarkers impact cognition in individuals who had COVID-19 in the long term," Professor Wisniewski said to Medical News Today.

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