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Study Finds Dementia Patients 2x More Likely to Contract the Coronavirus

Dementia patients in the US, aged 65 or older, account for 5.8 million of the population, and 50 million in the world collectively. According to a new study published last week, dementia patients are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, with a higher possibility of worse outcomes.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University led by researchers reviewed the e-medical records of over 61 million adults in the US, which uncovered twice as much likelihood of dementia patients catching the deadly disease.

What Else Did the Team Discover?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer, Maria Carrillo, preliminary findings have uncovered alarming vulnerabilities associated with coronavirus and dementia patients.

It was found that dementia patients who were suffering from the virus underwent far worse circumstances during hospitalization and death as compared to patients without dementia. To that measure, 20% of people with dementia succumbed to the illness, compared to the 5% that didn’t have dementia. Moreover, African American dementia patients were discovered to have a 3x increased likelihood of contracting the virus.

Shutterstock | African Americans with dementia are the most vulnerable as of now

Some Dementia Riskier Than Others

The researchers also discovered that certain types of dementia posed a bigger threat than others, the deadliest being vascular dementia, the odds of which are three times higher than the remainder. This is followed by pre-senile, senile, Alzheimer’s, and finally, post-traumatic dementia.

Reasons for Increased Risk

Some experts, including the researchers in this study, propose the reason for the vulnerability to be the blood-brain barrier being damaged in dementia patients. Therefore, bacteria and viruses have an easier time reaching the brain. Additionally, the disease in itself can limit the affected from practicing safety precautions and social distancing.

Shutterstock | Damage to the brain is a prominent cause

Other experts have also commented that most dementia patients, regardless of age, are kept in medical care facilities for safety purposes. Unfortunately, however, these facilities were hit hard by the pandemic. The latest data released shows that over 100,000 patients and staff in such facilities lost their lives to coronavirus and amounts to half the virus’s total deaths. Needless to say, the latest virus strain didn’t make things any better.

No Way to Save Them

The VP of care and support at the Alzheimer’s Association, Beth Kallymer, commented that it is evident how severely vulnerable groups such as dementia patients are being affected by the pandemic when compared to the rest of the society. Sadly, however, the institute- or any other- can’t take the necessary action to protect patients or prevent deaths.

Shutterstock | Seniors with dementia need more Covid care than anyone else

Now is the time to develop and implement strategies to give these groups the care and attention they deserve.

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