The world’s approach to dementia has changed in recent decades. For generations the condition was seen as an inevitable part of ageing, that as the body declined so did the mind. However, science has changed that perception and dementia is now seen as a disease, one that can be treated and potentially cured. As part of the research work is going into risk factors for the disease and how people can reduce those risks.
Some risk factors people have a greater degree of control over than others, such as whether or not they develop COVID-19.
While it is possible to take actions to reduce potential exposure to the virus, rates in the UK are now so high as to make zero exposure almost impossible.
The reason why COVID-19 is relevant is because a new study has found those who contract Covid pneumonia have a greater risk of developing dementia than those with other forms of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the sacs in one or both lungs.
It is common for those with severe Covid to develop the condition.
The research, conducted by the University of Missouri, adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the impact of COVID-19 on the brain.
On average, patients with Covid pneumonia had a three percent increased risk of developing dementia after recovery compared to just over two-and-a-half percent for those with non-Covid pneumonia.
The impact of Covid on dementia likelihood was greatest among people over the age of 70 who faced a six percent rise in their risk of the condition.
As well as mental health disorders, COVID-19 has also been associated with cardiovascular conditions.
A recent study in the British Medical Journal found Covid increased an individual’s risk of heart failure, heart disease, and stroke.
Such is the extent to which COVID-19 impacts long-term health scientists are now calling for health systems such as the NHS to be bolstered in preparation for a wave of patients with mental health and cardiovascular conditions.
Although for many the war against Covid may feel over, for many in the medicinal profession it is only just beginning.