Severity of smell dysfunction after infection with the coronavirus may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive impairment than overall severity of COVID-19, according to an Argentinian study.
Researchers studied a random sample of 766 people over age 60, roughly 90% of whom had been infected with the virus. Physical, cognitive and neuropsychiatric tests performed three-to-six months after infection showed some degree of memory impairment in two-thirds of the infected participants.
After taking individuals’ other risk factors into account, severity of loss of smell, known as anosmia, “but not clinical status, significantly (predicted) cognitive impairment,” the researchers reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022, held online and in San Diego.
“The more insight we have into what causes or at least predicts who will experience the significant long-term cognitive impact of COVID-19 infection, the better we can track it and begin to develop methods to prevent it,” study leader Gabriela Gonzalez-Aleman of Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires said in a statement.