Long-Term Cognitive Dysfunction Linked With COVID-19

More and more evidence is pointing towards persistent neuropsychiatric symptoms in people who had the disease.

Recent studies conducted by investigators from the Alzheimer’s Association, in collaboration with investigators from nearly 40 other countries, has found that many individuals who were infected with COVID-19 experienceneuropsychiatric symptoms and for some, these symptoms persist for a long-term period.

Findings from the studies were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2021.

"We're starting to see clear connections between COVID-19 and problems with cognition months after infection," Gabriel de Erausquin, an author on the study said. "It's imperative we continue to study this population, and others around the world, for a longer period of time to further understand the long-term neurological impacts of COVID-19."

For one of the studies the team of investigators collected plasma samples from 310 patients who were admitted to a hospital with a confirmed case of COVD-19 to look for the presence of biomarkers that are indicators of injury in the brain, neuroinflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.

Findings showed that the most common neurological symptom in those patients was confusion due to toxic-metabolic encephalopathy (TME).

Another study looked at cognition and olfactory senses in nearly 300 older adults in Argentina who were infected with COVID-19 between 3 and 6 months after they recovered.

Finds from that study showed that more than half of the patients had persistent problems with forgetfulness. Additionally, 1 in 4 had issues with cognition, including language and executive dysfunction.

"These new data point to disturbing trends showing COVID-19 infections leading to lasting cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer's symptoms," Heather M. Snyder, the Alzheimer's Association’s vice president of medical and scientific relations said. "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."