December 1, 2023

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Study: COVID-19 increases risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke

Study: COVID-19 increases risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke


Study: COVID-19 increases risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.

New research, presented recently at the European Society of Neurology Congress in Vienna, found that patients are at increased risk of several neurological disorders after contracting COVID-19.

The study found that COVID-positive people had an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke compared with uninfected people.


Study: COVID-19 increases risk of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke


Pardis Zarifkar from Copenhagen University Hospital, lead author of the new study, said: “More than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exact nature and evolution of the effects of COVID-19 on neurological disorders remains undetermined. Research has established an association with neurological syndromes, but until now it was not known whether COVID-19 also affects the incidence of specific neurological diseases and whether it differs from other respiratory infections.”


The researchers analyzed electronic health records for nearly half of Denmark’s total population, covering the period 2020 and 2021.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 were found to be 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and to experience a brain hemorrhage throughout the study period is 4.8 times more likely, and 2.7 times more likely to have an ischemic stroke.


Zarifkar noted that the increased risk of these neurological disorders after COVID-19 does mirror reports after previous cases of influenza or bacterial pneumonia.

However, due to the prevalence of COVID-19 infections, the baseline rates of these neurodegenerative diseases are likely to rise around the world in the coming years.


“We found that COVID-19-positive patients were at increased risk of being diagnosed with neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disease compared to COVID-negative patients, which must be confirmed or disproved by large registry studies in the near future,” Zarifkar added. “It is reassuring that, with the exception of ischemic stroke, most neurological diseases do not appear to be more frequent after COVID-19 than after influenza or community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.”


For decades, researchers have seen a correlation between certain viral infections and neurodegenerative diseases. Perhaps most famous is the increase in the incidence of Parkinson’s disease following the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th century.

Researchers have warned of a potential surge in diseases such as Parkinson’s disease since the pandemic began in 2020, and this new data provides an early signal that those predictions may come true.

Other, more recent studies have begun to unearth exactly what mechanisms might lead to an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease after COVID-19.


For years, the most prominent hypothesis to explain the link between viral infections and neurodegenerative diseases was that inflammation triggered by infection might initiate or accelerate the development of neurological disease.

A review article published as early as 2012 suggested that repeated viral infections may increase the risk of this neurological disorder by activating a cascade of events seen in the early stages of neurodegeneration.


The 2012 article states: “We believe that neurodegeneration can be triggered by repeated inflammatory responses and then propagated over time. In fact, there is evidence that microglia and astrocytes (the Astrocytes) activation and response are tracking existing neuronal circuits in the CNS (central nervous system) and PNS (peripheral nervous system). These inflammatory sequences combined with region- and cell-type-dependent neuronal vulnerabilities may There are specific neurodegenerative patterns of structure and function that define individual neurodegenerative diseases.”


Some recent studies have identified brain inflammation as a hallmark of some COVID-19 infections.

But it remains unclear how the virus might cause this neuroinflammation or whether this autoimmune response could cause long-term problems.


Commenting on the new findings on COVID-19, Sara Imarsio from Alzheimer’s Research UK noted that it was important to remember that the neurological conditions that lead to dementia are caused by a range of factors – from genetic predisposition to age and environment.

Therefore, COVID-19 may only play a small role in a person’s overall risk of developing these diseases.


Imarsio also noted that several other factors could explain the higher rates of neurodegenerative disease in people infected with COVID-19.

And it’s certainly too early to know the long-term effects of COVID-19 on certain brain diseases, which can take decades to develop.


“Diseases like Alzheimer’s develop in the brain for many years, and while COVID-19 has only appeared in Europe since early 2020, it may be that people in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s are more susceptible to infections like COVID-19. 19 such diseases. While the announcement of these findings is potentially concerning, we need to see the results of this study in a peer-reviewed publication before we can draw any real conclusions from this study,” Imarsio added.




Study: COVID-19 increases risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke

(source:internet, reference only)

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