Based on scientific evidence that was published in a journal on Monday called Nature, even a mild case of Covid-19 will age the brain faster along with other complications.
The study compared the before and after brain images of 785 British participants between the ages of 51 and 81. Of these persons, Douaud, an associate professor of neurosciences at the University of Oxford and her colleagues evaluated brain imaging from 401 people before contracting Covid-19 and about 4 ½ months after contracting the virus. This was done between the period March 2020 and April 2021.
The results were then compared to the brain imaging of 384 uninfected people of similar age, socioeconomic factors as well as other risk factors. This was used to then determine that 15 out of the 401 infected people had been hospitalized.
The study concluded that contracting Covid-19 led to a greater loss of grey matter and abnormalities in the brain tissue compared to those without. Further to that, a link was determined between the brain and the olfactory system as many of those persons were left temporarily without a sense of smell.
“Since the abnormal changes we see in the infected participants’ brains might be partly related to their loss of smell, it is possible that recovering it might lead to these brain abnormalities becoming less marked over time. Similarly, it is likely that the harmful effects of the virus (whether direct or indirect via inflammatory or immune reactions) decrease over time after infection” stated Douaud.
In addition to the brain imaging, the participants were also tested for their executive and cognitive function using the Trail Making Test. This is an evaluation tool that is sometimes used to screen for dementia by assessing cognition, that is the ability to think, reason, and remember. The researchers found that those who had the greatest brain tissue loss also performed the worst on this exam.
While it is not conclusive evidence, the findings from the study have also cautioned about the possibility of Covid-19 contributing to long-term consequences such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
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