A new study shows older patients contracting COVID-19 have more signs of brain damage than people who develop the neurodegenerative disease. A team from NYU Grossman School of Medicine found significantly higher levels of certain blood proteins which typically rise when someone suffers neurological damage among COVID-19 patients.
They say that over the short-term course of their infections,seven markers of brain damage were noticeably higher among patients than non-COVID-19 patients with Alzheimer’s. One of these markers was more than twice as high among coronavirus patients.
The lead author of the study said that the findings shows that patients hospitalized for COVID-19, and especially in those experiencing neurological symptoms during their acute infection, may have levels of brain injury markers that are as high as, or higher than, those seen in people who have Alzheimer’s disease.Study authors say the main sign of brain damage among the patients was the condition toxic metabolic encephalopathy.
Symptoms range from confusion to coma, due to toxins created by the immune system reacting (sepsis), the kidneys failing, and not enough oxygen in the tissue.The team examined 251 people hospitalized for COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic in 2020. The average age of the participants was 71 years-old, but all were in generally good health with no history of dementia or cognitive decline before their infection.