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Loss of smell, poor physical condition associated with cognitive impairment following COVID-19 infection

Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association (AAIC) 2021 International Conference found associations between COVID-19 and persistent cognitive deficits, including the pathology and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. According to investigators, cognitive impairment was also found to correlate with persistent loss of smell in recovered COVID-19 patients.

“These new data point to disturbing trends showing COVID-19 infections leading to lasting cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s symptoms,” said Heather M. Snyder, PhD, vice president of medical and scientific relations at Alzheimer’s Association, in a press release. “With more than 180 million cases and nearly 4 million deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has devastated the whole world. It is imperative that we continue to study what this virus is doing to our bodies and brains. The Alzheimer’s Association and its partners are at the forefront, but more research is needed.

In addition to the respiratory and gastrointestinal complications associated with COVID-19, many patients experience short- and / or long-term neuropsychiatric symptoms, including loss of smell and taste, and cognitive and speech deficits. attention, commonly referred to as “brain fog”.

For some patients, these neurological symptoms are persistent. Researchers are currently working to understand the mechanisms behind the cognitive dysfunction caused by SARS-CoV-2 and what this might mean for the long-term cognitive health of these patients.

Researchers assessed the cognition and olfactory senses of a cohort of nearly 300 elderly people with COVID-19. Participants were observed between 3 and 6 months after infection with COVID-19.

More than half of the study participants had persistent problems with forgetting. Additionally, 1 in 4 patients had additional cognitive problems, including language and executive dysfunction. These difficulties were associated with persistent smell problems, regardless of the severity of the original symptoms of COVID-19.

“We are starting to see clear links between COVID-19 and cognitive issues months after infection,” said Gabriel de Erausquin, MD, PhD, MSc, in the statement. “It is imperative that we continue to study this population, and others around the world, for a longer period of time to better understand the long-term neurological impacts of COVID-19. “

It was also found by a separate study that people who recovered from COVID-19 and experienced cognitive decline were more likely to be in poor physical condition and have lower oxygen saturation. Investigators analyzed cognitive impairment and associated health measures in 32 previously hospitalized patients who had mild to moderate COVID-19 2 months after discharge from hospital.

According to the researchers, the lower cognitive test scores for these patients were associated with higher age, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. Additionally, after adjusting for age and gender, lower memory and thinking scores were independently associated with lower levels of oxygen saturation during the 6-minute walk test, a measure commonly used to assess ability. function of people with cardiopulmonary disease.

“An oxygen-deprived brain is not healthy, and persistent deprivation may very well contribute to cognitive difficulties,” George Vavougios, MD, PhD, postdoctoral researcher for the University of Thessaly, said in the statement. “These data suggest some common biological mechanisms between the dyscognitive spectrum of COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 fatigue that have been reported anecdotally in recent months. “

REFERENCE

COVID-19 associated with long-term cognitive dysfunction, acceleration of Alzheimer’s symptoms [news release]. AICA; July 29, 2021. Accessed August 5, 2021.


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Melissa T. Thornton

The author Melissa T. Thornton

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