Another study in Lancet Psychiatry from May found that patients hospitalized with Covid were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia within six months than patients who weren’t.
Dr. Alireza Atri, director of Banner Sun Health Research Institute who specializes in cognitive disorders, says he’s been seeing many more patients in their 50s who have signs of early dementia after having Covid. “It’s a nasty neuro-destructive virus,” he says in an interview. “It can accelerate decline in people who are more susceptible to dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
One reason is the virus can attack the lining of blood vessels and cause small blood clots in the brain. It also uses the olfactory pathways to directly invade the brain, poking holes in the normally ironclad blood-brain barrier. The olfactory pathways project to parts of the brain that are very close to where new memories are formed, which is another reason that some Covid survivors may suffer from brain fog and loss of taste and smell.