A recent study by the University of Missouri (MU) scientists has discovered that patients suffering from COVID-19 pneumonia and who are hospitalised have a higher risk of developing dementia. The scientists analysed electronic medical records of 1.4 billion encounters before July 31 last year in Cerner Real-World Data and they chose patients hospitalised with pneumonia for more than 24 hours.
According to the team, among 10,403 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, 312 developed new-onset dementia after recovering which is around 3 percent as compared to 263 (2.5 percent) of the 10,403 patients with non-COVID pneumonia who were diagnosed with dementia.
“In our study, we found that the risk of new-onset dementia was more common in COVID-19 pneumonia patients over the age of 70,” said lead researcher Adnan I. Qureshi, a professor of clinical neurology at the MU School of Medicine said as quoted by news agency PTI.
Dementia is a group of conditions that are generally characterised by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgment. The symptoms include forgetfulness, limited social skills, and impaired thinking abilities.
Qureshi also said that the type of dementia witnessed in recovered patients of COVID-19 infection mainly affects memory, ability to perform everyday tasks, and self-regulation. Meanwhile, language and awareness of time and location remained relatively preserved. The scientists also found that the median time interval between infection and dementia diagnosis was 182 days for COVID-19 patients.
The study only included new-onset dementia associated with admitted patients and it was published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
The lead author of the study, Qureshi, also said that further examination over longer periods would provide more details and may help determine the underlying reasons why COVID-19 pneumonia might increase dementia risk.