Long Covid Symptoms Often Overlooked in Older People — Pain News Network

Long Covid and Dementia

James Jackson, director of long-term outcomes at Vanderbilt’s Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction, and Survivorship Center, leads several long-running covid support groups that Morse and Bell attend and has worked with hundreds of similar patients. He estimates that about a third of older people have some degree of cognitive impairment.

“We know there are significant differences between younger and older brains. Younger brains are more plastic and efficient at replenishing themselves, and our younger patients seem able to regain cognitive functioning more quickly,” he said.

In extreme cases, covid infections can lead to dementia. This may be because older people who are seriously ill with covid are at high risk of develop a delirium — an acute and sudden change in mental status — which is associated with development of dementiamentioned Dr Liron Sinvanigeriatrician and assistant professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York.

The brains of older patients may also have been injured due to lack of oxygen or inflammation. Or the disease processes underlying dementia may already be underway, and a covid infection may serve as a tipping point, accelerating the emergence of symptoms.

Research conducted by Sinvani and colleagues, published in March, found that 13% of covid patients who were 65 and older and hospitalized at Northwell Health in March 2020 or April 2020 showed signs of dementia one year later.

Dr Thomas Gut, associate director of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital, which opened one of the first long-term clinics in the United States, observed that falling ill with covid can push older people with pre-existing conditions such as heart failure or lung disease. the edge” to a more severe impairment.

“It’s hard to attribute what’s directly covid-related and what’s a progression of conditions they already have,” Gut said.

That was not the case for Richard Gard, 67, who lives just outside of New Haven, Connecticut, a self-proclaimed “very healthy and fit” sailor, diver and music teacher at the University of Yale who contracted covid in March 2020. He was the first covid patient treated at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he was critically ill for 2.5 weeks, including five days in intensive care and three days on a ventilator.

Over the next two years, Gard spent more than two months in hospital, usually for symptoms that resemble a heart attack. “If I tried to climb the stairs or 10 feet I would almost pass out from exhaustion and the symptoms would start – extreme chest pain radiating from my arm into my neck, difficulty breathing, sweating,” he said. -he declares.

Dr. Erica Spatz, director of the preventive cardiovascular health program at Yale, is one of the physicians at Gard. “The more severe the covid infection and the older you are, the more likely you are to have a cardiovascular complication later on,” she said. Complications include weakening of the heart muscle, blood clots, abnormal heart rhythms, damage to the vascular system, and high blood pressure.

Gard’s life has changed in ways he never imagined. Unable to work, he takes 22 medications and can still only walk 10 minutes on flat ground. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a frequent and unwanted companion.

“A lot of times it’s been hard to keep going, but I tell myself that I just have to get up and try one more time,” he told me. “Every day that I feel a little better, I tell myself that I add another day or another week to my life.”

Kaiser Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues.

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