Alzheimer's Found to Increase Risk of Severe COVID-19

Regardless of age, Alzheimer’s was seen to be a risk factor for severe disease and death.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of São Paulo, in collaboration with the Butantan Institute and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, has discovered that individuals with Alzheimer’s are at an increased risk for contracting severe COVID-19.

Findings from the study were published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

"Some factor that hasn't yet been identified increases the predisposition of Alzheimer's patients to progress to severe COVID-19 and die from the viral disease," Sérgio Verjovski-Almedia, principal investigator on the study said. "The results of our study point to a need for special attention to these patients when hospitalized."

For the study, the team of investigators analyzed data from 12,836 patients who tested positive or negative with a SARS-CoV-2 infection for positive diagnoses, hospitalizations and deaths. The data was collected from a UK Biobank between March and August of 2020.

Of the patients, 1,167 tested positive for COVID-19. The team only included patients who were 66 years of age or older and separated them into three groups: 66-74 (6,182), 75-79 (4,867), and 80-86 (1,814). 

Findings from the study showed that regardless of age, Alzheimer's was a risk factor for severity of the disease and death in the case of hospitalized patients.

Additionally, though Alzheimer's specifically did not increase the risk of hospitalization, after a hospital admission, those with Alzheimer’s were seen to have a threefold risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.

"The advantages of using clinical data from UK Biobank include the amount of detail, as the records refer to all pre-existing diseases and whether the patient tested positive, was hospitalized and died from COVID-19," Verjovski-Almeida said. "This enabled us to assess the risk factors associated with infection, severity and death from the disease, including all causes of dementia, especially Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."