by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
Analysis of millions of health records has found that people with dementia are more likely to catch severe Covid-19, according to a study published on February 9 in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
The study found that in the first six months of the pandemic, patients with dementia and Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized than those without dementia, and over four times as likely to die, Pam Belluck reports for the New York Times. When risk factors like age, heart disease and asthma were taken into account, the data still show that people with dementia are twice as likely to have caught Covid-19 during the first six months of the pandemic.
“Folks with dementia are more dependent on those around them to do the safety stuff, to remember to wear a mask, to keep people away through social distancing,” says University of Michigan professor of medicine Kenneth Langa, who was not involved in the study, to the New York Times. “There is the cognitive impairment and the fact that they are more socially at risk.”
The researchers used data collected by IBM Watson Health Explorys, which comprises the health records of over 60 million people in the United States. They found records of over 15,000 patients with Covid-19, 810 of whom also had dementia.