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COVID-19 could accelerate Alzheimer's-like symptoms: study
A new study suggests COVID-19 is producing cognitive issues similar to those seen with Alzheimer's patients, CNN reports.
The study, led by Gabriel de Erausquin, a professor of neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, found that some patients who contracted the coronavirus had similar memory issues and biological markers to those struggling with Alzheimer's months after contracting the virus.
Erausquin reported the findings Thursday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, and noted that the long-term effects of the coronavirus and its associated effects are unknown.
Of the more than 200 people studied - Argentinian adults aged 60 and older who tested positive for the coronavirus - more than half exhibited memory issues between three and six months after coming down with the disease. About a quarter also reported other cognitive challenges associated with Alzheimer's, including issues carrying out tasks and trouble remembering words and phrases.
The Alzheimer's-like symptoms are not the same as the lingering "brain fog" phenomenon frequently described by younger people who were infected, CNN notes.
Researchers said people who ranged from being mildly sick to very sick exhibited cognitive issues after the fact, suggesting that the intensity of the infection was not a factor.
"The severity of the initial disease does not predict who is going to get this," Erausquin told CNN. "In fact, many of them had minimal symptoms -- just a cold or loss of smell."
The findings were supported by Thomas Wisniewski, another researcher who presented at the conference noted. He also noted the presence of biological blood markers found in Alzheimer's patients in COVID-19 patients 60 and older.
"Those are the kinds of things that make you suspicious that indeed there may be an overlap with Alzheimer's disease, of some sort," Erausquin said. "But it's very early in the game. We need a lot more data."