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Covid Healthline Neuro Health

Cognitive dysfunction linked to COVID-19

  • There is growing concern about the effects of COVID-19 on many parts of a person’s body besides the respiratory system.
  • Researchers have shown that COVID-19 symptoms can persist after recovery and lead to neurological problems.
  • Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2021 further confirms these findings, including making links between COVID-19 and signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
Scientists presenting research at the AAIC 2021, held online and in Denver, CO, have found links between COVID-19 and longer-term cognitive issues, including biological signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings lay the ground for larger longitudinal studies to explore in more detail the neurological effects of COVID-19.

Long COVID

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source note that COVID-19 symptoms can include mild respiratory problems, more severe low oxygen levels and shortness of breath, and life threatening issues affecting multiple organs across a person’s body.
Much research has been done to understand these acute symptoms, and there are now many different treatment options open to clinicians.
However, the effects of COVID-19 do not always end after the acute phase of the condition.
As the pandemic progressed, anecdotal evidence suggested many people who had recovered from COVID-19 were still experiencing a variety of symptoms. This became known as long COVID.
According to Dr. A. V. Raveendran, of the Government Medical College in Manjeri, India, and his colleagues, symptoms of long COVID can include “profound fatigue, breathlessness, cough, chest pain, palpitations, headache, joint pain, myalgia and weakness, insomnia, pins and needles, diarrhea, rash or hair loss, impaired balance and gait, neurocognitive issues, including memory and concentration problems, and worsened quality of life.”

Neurological issues under the spotlight

At the AAIC 2021, researchers presented a number of studies that focus on the neurological issues associated with the longer-term effects of COVID-19.
According to Dr. Heather M. Snyder, Alzheimer’s Association vice president of medical and scientific relations, “[t]hese new data point to disturbing trends showing COVID-19 infections leading to lasting cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s symptoms.”
“With more than 190 million cases and nearly 4 million deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has devastated the entire 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 leading, but more research is needed,” she said.
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