ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)– The Alzheimer’s Association released new findings on their study of Covid-19 and the impacts on brain functions. These findings were presented at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

This new study from Argentina follows 766 adults between the ages of 55 and 95 exposed to Covid-19 for one year. The study found that 88.4% were infected, and 11.6% were controlled.

The results found that two-thirds of the infected group showed some memory impairment. In addition, they discovered that persistent loss of smell proved to be a better predictor of long-term cognitive function than the severity of the virus.

“Those that had a persistent loss of smell due to Covid-19 were closely connected to long-lasting cognitive impact or problems in the future,” Vice President of Programs and Services with Alzheimer’s Association of Greater PA Sara Murphy said. “Not necessarily issues or challenges with Covid-19 but more regarding potential long-lasting experiences with cognitive functioning.”

The study specified three groups depending on their cognitive function. 11.7% only had memory impairment; 8.3% had impairment in attention and executive function; the 11.6% displayed multiple function impairments. The convention noted that the more insight they have from the COVID-19 impact, the more they can research for treatment.

When a person has a loss of smell it is primarily due to nasal polyps or other blockages. Murphy said that inflammation could cause a bit of brain fog which affects cognitive function.

“If you’re thinking about somebody and what happens to the brain when you lose olfactory nerves, there’s inflammation happening, and we do know that is something that can impact your ability to cognitively function, so that’s really it,” Murphy said.

In addition, the conference released findings between ICU hospitalizations and dementia risks. This research comes from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, which studied older adults between 1991 to 2018.

Researchers found that results filtered by age, sex, education, and race found that those with ICU hospitalizations had a 63% higher risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and 71% higher risk of all types of dementia.

Then those that have other chronic conditions had a stronger connection. ICU hospitalization was associated with a 110% greater risk of Alzheimer’s and a 120% greater risk of all types of dementia.

The significance of these studies shows that these could mean something more when analyzing the ICU hospitalizations during the pandemic. That furthers the association’s plans to continue its study on Covid-19 and its impact on the brain.

“These are novel, and so what I think this highlight is that we need to continue to study and understand COVID-19 and the impact on the brain and the potential continuation of that as we continue to study it,” Murphy said.

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These findings are just meant to further research and provide updates.

“So if you’ve had it and you lose smell due to Covid-19, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get dementia. I think they’re trying to understand that relationship,” Murphy said.

To read more about the findings from the conference, click here.