Although COVID-19 typically affects the lung, it can also cause other complications involving almost all the body systems including brain. When it does affect brain, it is usually in the form of stroke. The reason behind this is the ability of this infection to increase the tendency of blood to clot.
Let’s understand more about it!
COVID-19 and Stroke
Various studies suggest that COVID-19 may increase the risk of stroke by 0.9% to 23% in COVID-19 positive patients. It may have the following types of manifestations:
- Symptoms of stroke are seen in COVID-19, where the patient develops COVID-19 symptoms first and later develops stroke as a complication.
- Some patients show the symptoms of stroke first and are later diagnosed with COVID-19. They are usually younger patients without any known risk factors for stroke.
Types Of Strokes Seen in COVID-19 Patients
The following types of strokes are commonly seen:
- Ischemic stroke: Due to blockage of the blood vessel that causes stroke due to lack of oxygen supply to a part of the brain. This is the commonest type of stroke seen in these patients.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: It is caused by rupture of a blood vessel supplying the brain that causes accumulation of blood in a part of the brain. This stroke sub type is reported rarely in COVID pts.
Cause of Stroke in These Patients
Experts believe that COVID-19 results in a prothrombotic stage, which means they have a tendency for the blood to become sticky or thicken, this leads to clot formation which causes obstruction in the blood supply to the brain. The lack of blood supply to the brain results in a stroke. It can affect single or multiple parts of the brain.
Difference Between COVID-19 related Stroke and Traditional Stroke
Usually, the risk factors for stroke include uncontrolled hypertension, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disorders, and a sedentary lifestyle.
However, COVID-19 related strokes maybe seen in patients without these risk factors.
Besides, traditional stroke is uncommon in younger patients below 45 years of age. But younger age does not protect against COVID-19 related stroke. A study also suggests that younger patients have a more severe form of stroke because of large-vessel involvement.
Stroke is an emergency condition and may cause complications, including death, if immediate action is not taken.
So, it is essential to know the symptoms of stroke to identify one. Some common ones include (easily identified by a four-letter word FAST):
- F: Face-Sudden onset facial weakness
- A: Arm/leg weakness
- S: Speech problems
- T: Time- Don’t waste time at home
This is even more crucial during the pandemic as COVID-19 has overwhelmed healthcare systems, and delays may occur due to a lack of transfer facilities.
How Can Stroke Survivors Prevent Another Stroke in the Pandemic?
The most important thing to do is taking your medication for any condition, such as diabetes, blood pressure, and high cholesterol, regularly as advised by your doctor. Those individuals on physiotherapy need to continue the same at home.
While COVID-19 is seen as a lung infection, it may also cause blood clots that may result in a severe stroke. Knowledge that stroke can occur more frequently in COVID patients, taking precautions and seeking immediate care is essential to prevent associated complications.