BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – New research has shown a link between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s Disease. The discovery was announced last week during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, where research has shown those who have been infected with COVID-19 have had accelerated Alzheimer’s symptoms as well.
The Alzheimer’s mortality rate is highest in the southeastern region of the country. Both researchers and advocates fighting the disease say while the recent news is rough, they are still pushing forward.
“And we are going to keep getting these stats that are scary, but we have to keep fighting. And we are not going to do without everyone rallying together as a community,” Kimberly Stephens with the Alzheimer’s Association said.
Stephens has made it a mission to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. She lost her mother in 2019. She says the recent link with COVID and the death rate in the region coming out is absolutely heartbreaking.
“It makes you think twice about parents. You can still give them COVID now. And if there is this correlation still out there, it’s scary. It’s pretty hard to watch,” Stephens said.
According to Dr. Olivio J. Clay with UAB, the mortality rate in the region is 274 people per 100,000.
The Alzheimer’s Association released this information last week, showing studies where patients exhibited other symptoms like forgetfulness months after infection. Dr. Clay says other diseases like diabetes and stroke are still some of the biggest contributors to the disease.
“You know, each one of those is an individual factor is associated with a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Clay said.
But in the midst of the pandemic, researchers remain vigilant.
“Not what to do once you develop Alzheimer’s or another related dementia, but what things can I put in place to reduce risk,” Dr. Clay said.
And advocates like Stephens aren’t giving up hope.
“That is what keeps my family going. I know that’s what keeps many of our volunteers going is hope,” Stephens said.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s event will be on October 17th, hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association Birmingham Chapter. To register, click here.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.