COVID-19 linked to higher dementia risk in older adults, study finds

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

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

*Important Notice: Preprint with The Lancet/SSRN Preliminary scientific reports are published that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be considered conclusive, guidelines for clinical practice/health-related behavior, or established information.

Background

Although immediate concerns about the high morbidity and mortality associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have been put to rest due to a global concerted effort to vaccinate the global population, emerging evidence indicates that long-term effects on the neurological course of COVID-19 has A growing number of studies have examined whether the epidemic increases the risk of cognitive impairment or neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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

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

About the study

In the current study, researchers reviewed the existing literature and conducted a meta-analysis to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 infection increases the risk of new-onset dementia in adults older than 60 years.

Despite growing evidence of a link between COVID-19 and an increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, findings remain inconclusive as to whether COVID-19 is associated with new-onset dementia. Methods of studies examining this association are highly variable in factors such as patients’ baseline clinical data, duration of follow-up, study design, type of dementia examined, and demographic characteristics of patients.

The aim of the meta-analysis was to analyze the results of these diverse studies to develop a broader understanding of the risk of new-onset dementia in older adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection and to establish early intervention measures.

The review included studies that assessed the long-term impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the onset of any form of dementia in adults over 60 years of age who survived COVID-19. Both retrospective and prospective observational studies including patients recovering from Covid-19 and being evaluated for dementia were considered for analysis.

Data from the study included the type of control group used, the diagnostic method used to detect COVID-19, the assessment used to diagnose dementia, the type of dementia, the duration of follow-up, and the type of respiratory infection, such as bacteria. infection, influenza or SARS-CoV-2.

Furthermore, the association between Covid-19 and the development of new-onset dementia was also analyzed for different subgroups based on sex, age group, type of dementia, comorbidity, severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and follow-up period. Types of dementia examined in the study include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia of all causes, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia.

result

The results indicated that SARS-CoV-2 infection may be associated with a higher risk of new-onset dementia in adults older than 60 years in the subacute or chronic phase of infection after a COVID-19 diagnosis. However, the risk of new-onset dementia after COVID-19 does not appear to be greater than after other respiratory infections such as influenza or bacterial infections.

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

Subgroup analyzes also indicated that regardless of COVID-19 status, women were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and generalized dementia than men. 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 varied between studies.

Conclusion

Overall, the findings suggested that compared with older adults who did not have SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 was associated with a higher risk of new-onset dementia in adults older than 60 years. However, the risk has been found to be associated with respiratory infections from other etiological agents. Furthermore, the risk of new-onset dementia has been found to be one of the long-term consequences of COVID-19.

*Important Notice: Preprint with The Lancet/SSRN Preliminary scientific reports are published that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be considered conclusive, guidelines for clinical practice/health-related behavior, or established information.

Journal Reference:

  • Preliminary Scientific Report. Dan Shan, Kongjiu 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, https://ssrn.com/abstract=4716751



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