Dementia most common underlying medical condition in people dying from virus in Scotland
The most common main pre-existing condition was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (31%).
Alzheimer's Research UK, the leading dementia research charity, has called for more research to understand the link between Covid-19 and dementia.
In May scientists analysed data from the UK Biobank and found high risk of severe coronavirus infection among European ancestry participants who carry two faulty copies of the APOE gene (termed e4e4).
One in 36 people of European ancestry have two fault copies of this gene and this is known to increase risks of Alzheimer’s disease up to 14-fold and also increases the risk of heart disease.
The team of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School and the University of Connecticut had previously found that people with dementia are three times more likely to get severe Covid-19, yet theywere not one of the groups advised to shield on health grounds.
Part of the increased risk effect may have been exposure to the high prevalence of the virus in care homes.
Samantha Benham-Hermetz, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “People with dementia, and their loved ones, have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 and this news will be very frightening for all those affected.
“As restrictions on everyday life begin to ease, we cannot afford to overlook the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on so many lives, including those with dementia, and we must continue efforts to bring a stop to it.
“More research is needed to understand the link between Covid-19 and dementia, so we can urgently work out why people with the condition are being disproportionality impacted.
“Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and with older people also more likely to experience severe symptoms fromCovid-19, this may partly explain the high number of deaths.
“The high rates of infection in care homes is also putting people with dementia at a higher risk of being badly affected by Covid-19.
“While we wait to see the true impact of Covid-19 on people with dementia, we must push forward with research efforts and improve testing, particularly in care homes, so we can put the right measures in place to save lives.”
Scottish Conservative Health Spokesperson, Miles Briggs, said: “The disproportionally high number of people with dementia who have died from Covid-19 is a national tragedy and my thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones.
“The failure to protect residents in care homes has been the single biggest failure of SNP Ministers during Covid-19 and there will rightly be a full public inquiry in the future.
“Research into the link between dementia and Covid-19 is vitally important, as well as improving testing in care homes to have the necessary precautions in place to protect care home residents.”
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