Dementia found as a risk factor for COVID-19

13 May 2020

Today (Wednesday 13 March) researchers at the University of Exeter looked at which health conditions put people at the greatest risk from the COVID-19 virus. It is the first time dementia has been found to be a risk factor for COVID-19.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Scientists are working quickly to unpick the risk factors for COVID-19. In this study researchers found that dementia was the diagnosis associated with the greatest risk of severe COVID-19 in a group of participants over the age of 65.

“While we still do not know details of the COVID-19 cases involved in this study, many factors are likely to influence the risk and severity of COVID-19. We don’t yet know the cause of this apparent link, but dementia is caused by physical diseases in the brain and people living with dementia are more vulnerable to certain infections. It’s possible that people with dementia may be more likely to have been exposed to the virus due to high rates of infection in care homes, but we need to see more data before we can draw any firm conclusions.

“We already know that people with dementia and their families are feeling the impact of COVID-19 acutely, and this initial data suggests it’s particularly important to protect people with dementia from exposure to the virus.”