Patients infected with coronavirus are no longer filling up ICU wards in the UK but another threat now looms: the long-term damage inflicted on those that have become infected previously. This is an area subject to ongoing investigation and the cost to society is yet to be calculated. New research does not paint an optimistic picture, however.
Speaking about the research, Doctor Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s already clear that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on people with dementia. Relatively little is known about the long-term effects of COVID-19, including subsequent risk of memory and thinking problems, or the long-term risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
“Already at AAIC we have learnt that the number of people with dementia globally is set to almost triple by 2050, but this doesn’t consider potential new risk factors for the condition.
“These new findings underline that not only is COVID-19 a serious illness, but that we need to monitor potential long-term effects. The evidence for persistent problems with memory and thinking after a COVID-19 infection isn’t yet clear and like all findings presented at conferences, we must wait to see them published in full and scrutinised by other experts to draw firmer conclusions.
“These results make it clear that more long-term follow-up and studies of people experiencing COVID-19 are required. These studies are predominantly from hospitalised patients, and we need to see a broader focus to encompass the widespread impact of COVID-19.”
Doctor Kohlhaas continued: “In separate research, Alzheimer’s Research UK is liaising with other research funders to support work looking into long-term health impacts of COVID-19.
“If anyone is worried about their memory or thinking or persistent effects of COVID-19 they should consult with their doctor.”
Long Covid – how to spot it
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.
This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”.
“Contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having COVID-19,” advises the NHS.
According to the health body, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life.
“They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.”
These might include:
- Blood tests
- Checking your blood pressure and heart rate
- A chest X-ray.
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