Barcelona, June 30th 2020
COVID-19 and Alzheimer's disease
People who pass COVID-19 are more likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer's
• Various scientific studies indicate that 36% of people who have survived the virus develop neurological problems later
• Fundación ACE warns about the convenience of people who have passed the virus to ask for a free memory check-up, as a mechanism for early detection of Alzheimer's
People who survive the COVID-19 are at high risk for later development of neurological diseases and, in particular, Alzheimer's disease. This is indicated by different scientific studies at European and international level, according to which neurological problems and evidence of cognitive impairment have been observed in about 36% of people who have survived the virus, both those with pre-existing neurological conditions and those without them. This is the main conclusion of the studies carried out by researchers from the University of Bonn (Germany) and the universities of Massachusetts and Michigan (USA), on the one hand, the University Hospital and the University of Strasbourg (France), on the other, and the George Mason University of Virginia.
Studies show that this risk of a neurological problem can come from both a direct viral infection of the nervous system and secondary immune and inflammatory responses. The systemic inflammation that many people affected by COVID-19 have presented is directly related to the appearance of cases of cognitive deterioration, and therefore a greater risk of suffering from Alzheimer's in the future.
It should also be borne in mind that people with an average age of 60 have been the most affected by the coronavirus, according to data published daily by the Carlos III Institute of Health in Spain. Precisely, the disease has so far especially affected people at the age when cognitive impairment is usually detected, which has further highlighted the vulnerability of the group.
Studies also show that COVID-19 has caused frequent neuropsychiatric problems among those affected during hospitalization and after discharge, such as insomnia, delirium, confusion, depression or anxiety. These symptoms have been observed in patients in hospitals and clinics in Spain, Italy, France and China, according to the studies.
People who already had Alzheimer's or another type of dementia or cognitive impairment before the health crisis was declared have also suffered consequences such as isolation, lack of control over treatment, loss of medical visits, cessation of cognitive stimulation activities, feelings of sadness or lack of understanding of physical distancing measures.
A project for early detection
In view of this situation, Fundació ACE - Barcelona Alzheimer Treatment & Research Center emphasizes the importance of early detection of Alzheimer's among people who have suffered from COVID-19 through means such as free memory tests, which the entity has been carrying out for 12 years.
Due to the health crisis, these reviews have been adapted and are being carried out by video call. Any person over 50 years old can request their own memory revision through the mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or the telephone 93 430 47 20.
"The current situation can cause stress and emotions that we do not usually have and that can cause us to worry about our cognitive performance", says Dr. Mercè Boada, medical director and co-founder of Fundació ACE. "We want people who are concerned about their memory to be calm, and that is why we offer free memory checks".
In 2019 alone, a total of 402 people have been treated at the Foundation's Diagnostic Unit - made up of neurologists, neuropsychologists and psychologists - as part of the scheduled free visits, a figure that doubles the number of memory checks carried out in 2018, a total of 196. People who have come to Fundació ACE for a free memory check have received a full assessment of their cognitive performance.
Faced with an illness for which there is currently no cure and which affects an increasing number of people, making a diagnosis of dementia in its mildest stages, when there is still time to act, is a priority for both society and Fundació ACE.
Dr. Boada insists that "checking our memory should be as important as a sugar or cholesterol test". In this sense, Dr. Boada recalls that "early detection of the disease is fundamental, since it gives us the opportunity to act on its progression".
Study on the effects of COVID-19
The fact that people who survive the COVID-19 are at high risk of subsequently developing Alzheimer's is the main hypothesis on which a study recently launched by experts from Fundació ACE's Memory Unit is based.
The study, which will last 12 months, aims to evaluate the presence of neurological symptoms in the acute phase of COVID-19 infection in those users of the memory clinic with cognitive impairment and to determine the impact of the virus on its progression.
More information on this link.