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COVID-19 may trigger dementia and Alzheimer’s in certain patients, expert claims

Elen Mkhitaryan noted that COVID-19 could not cause dementia all by itself, but could become a trigger for it

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. COVID-19 can trigger dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s disease in patients who exhibit certain pre-existing changes in the brain, a leading expert at the Russian Gerontological Research and Clinical Center of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University Elen Mkhitaryan said Wednesday.

"While COVID-19 cannot cause dementia all by itself, <...> if a patient exhibits even minimal changes [in the brain], all it takes is a trigger, and in that case, the coronavirus infection can become that trigger," Mkhitaryan, who heads the Neurogeriatrics and Cognitive Disorders Laboratory at the research center, said during a panel titled "Recovery after COVID-19: Minimizing the After-effects and Ensuring Appropriate Rehabilitation."

Mkhitaryan cited an American study that showed that Alzheimer’s patient deaths spiked in the US in 2020, with a 16% increase compared to the average number of deaths recorded every year. "Moreover, the number of Alzheimer’s patients also spiked, doubling during that time. In other words, it [coronavirus] is a trigger of sorts, meaning COVID-19 cannot cause Alzheimer’s by itself, but can be a triggering factor," she concluded.