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Study finds COVID-19 linked to increased risk of dementia in older adults


In a recent study published in Preprints with The Lancet On the SSRN* First Look server, researchers investigated whether coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) played a role in the development of new-onset dementia during different time intervals in adults over 60 years of age.

Study: Temporal association between COVID-19 infection and subsequent new-onset dementia in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Image Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock

Study finds COVID-19 linked to increased risk of dementia in older adultsStudy finds COVID-19 linked to increased risk of dementia in older adults*Important news: Preprints with The Lancet/SSRN publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice or health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Background

Although immediate concerns about the high rates of morbidity and mortality associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections have been allayed by concerted efforts worldwide to vaccinate the global population , emerging evidence indicates that COVID-19 has long-term impacts on neurological trajectories. A growing number of studies have examined whether the pandemic has increased the risk of cognitive decline or exacerbated neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Research indicates that older adults who have had SARS-CoV-2 infections are at higher risk of cognitive decline compared to healthy adults or people with other respiratory diseases. Neurobiological studies have also found that SARS-CoV-2 can trigger immune dysregulation, inflammation in the central nervous system, and autoimmune responses that can exacerbate and accelerate neurodegenerative conditions.

Furthermore, the increased levels of tau aggregation, deposition of amyloid beta, tau, neurofilament light chain, and other cerebrospinal fluid markers associated with COVID-19 highlight the need to evaluate their role in triggering new-onset dementia. .

About the study

In the present study, researchers reviewed the existing literature and conducted a meta-analysis to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 infections increase the risk of new-onset dementia in adults over 60 years of age.

Despite growing evidence on the link between COVID-19 and increased risk of exacerbation of neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, findings on whether COVID-19 is associated with new-onset dementia remain unclear. be conclusive. The methodologies of studies examining this association are highly variable depending on factors such as patients’ baseline clinical data, duration of follow-up, study design, types of dementia examined, and patient demographic characteristics.

The meta-analysis aimed to analyze the findings of these various studies to form a comprehensive understanding of the risk of new-onset dementia in older adults who have had SARS-CoV-2 infections and establish early intervention measures.

The review included studies that evaluated the long-term impact of SARS-CoV-2 infections on the onset of any form of dementia in adults over 60 years of age who had survived COVID-19. Both retrospective and prospective observational studies that included patients who had recovered from COVID-19 and had undergone dementia evaluations were considered for analysis.

Data extracted from the studies included the type of control groups used, the diagnostic method to detect COVID-19, the assessments used to diagnose dementia, the type of dementia, the duration of follow-up, and the type of respiratory infection, such as the bacterial. infection, influenza or SARS-CoV-2.

Furthermore, the association between COVID-19 and the development of new-onset dementia was also analyzed for various subgroups based on sex, age groups, type of dementia, comorbidities, severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and duration of follow-up. . The types of dementia examined in the study included Alzheimer’s disease, all-cause dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and vascular dementia.

Results

The results reported that SARS-CoV-2 infections could be associated with an increased risk of new-onset dementia in adults over 60 years of age during the subacute or chronic phases of infection after a COVID-19 diagnosis. However, the risk of new-onset dementia after COVID-19 did not appear to be higher than that of other respiratory infections, such as the flu or bacterial infections.

The researchers found that the risk of developing new-onset dementia after SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher at the one-year follow-up compared to the three- and six-month follow-ups, suggesting that new-onset dementia It was one of the long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Subgroup analyzes also indicated that, regardless of COVID-19 status, women were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and all-cause dementia than men. The severity of COVID-19 in older adults was also associated with an increased risk of new-onset dementia, although the definition of severe COVID-19 was found to vary across studies.

Conclusions

Overall, the findings suggested that, compared with older adults who did not have SARS-CoV-2 infections, COVID-19 in adults over 60 years of age was associated with an increased risk of new-onset dementia. However, the risk was found to be similar to that associated with respiratory infections due to other etiological agents. Additionally, the risk of new-onset dementia was found to be one of the long-term outcomes of COVID-19.

Study finds COVID-19 linked to increased risk of dementia in older adultsStudy finds COVID-19 linked to increased risk of dementia in older adults*Important news: Preprints with The Lancet/SSRN publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice or health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Magazine reference:

  • Preliminary scientific report. Dan Shan, Congxiyu Wang, Trevor Crawford, Carol Holland. 2024. Temporal association between COVID-19 infection and subsequent new-onset dementia in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.4716751,



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