Stroke in the Age of COVID-19

Is there a risk of stroke with COVID19? While there is still insufficient research to determine what particular mechanisms in COVID-19 cause the most damage, it is clear that the virus increases the risk of stroke. Recent research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in February of 2022 indicates that the risk of stroke is highest within the first three days of a COVID-19 diagnosis but lingers long after.

Recent study showing stroke correlation

The recent study examined health records of over 37,000 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older between April 2020 and February 2021. COVID-19 patients were studied for risk of ischemic stroke during various periods of time and the following results were discovered:

  • Within the first three days of diagnosis, the risk of stroke was 10 times greater than that of the control group

  • Between days 4 and 7 from diagnosis, stroke risk was 60% higher than the control group

  • Between days 8 and 14 after diagnosis, the risk was 44% higher compared to the control group

  • Between days 14 and 28, the risk was 9% higher than the control group (later time periods were not examined)

  • People ages 65-74 had a higher risk of stroke than those 85+ and those who had no history of stroke

  • There seemed to be no obvious correlation to sex, race, or ethnicity

While there are various limitations to the study and it has not yet been peer-reviewed, a link seems fairly clear.

Earlier evidence of a stroke connection

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have been trying to understand this new kind of illness. While it seemed to be a respiratory virus, various studies, including work done by the Salk Institute in a paper published in Circulation Research on April 30, 2021, demonstrated that it is actually a vascular disease. Exposing healthy endothelial cells that line arteries to the spike protein in SARS CoV-2, the protein caused inflammation and damaged the cells binding ACE2. This supported studies done in a UCLA-led study in December 2020, which found that there was indeed interaction with cells lining the blood vessels in the regions of the brain with higher levels of ACE2.

A study by Harvard Medical School investigators, published in the American Journal of Hematology on August 24, 2020, showed a dramatic increase in blood clotting in patients with severe COVID-19 cases. They discovered that 33% of patients with high levels of blood-clotting protein Factor V developed either deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism.

Risk factors and stroke

Since common symptoms of moderate or severe COVID-19 include inflammation, poor organ function, and development of blood clots for patients of any age, it is clear that anyone who contracts a severe case should be monitored very closely for risk of stroke. But other risk factors further increase the danger.

A March 2021 study found that of the COVID-19 patients who experienced an ischemic stroke, 44% had type 2 diabetes and 80% had high blood pressure.

As more research is done, it becomes obvious that all COVID-19 patients should receive constant monitoring for possible stroke symptoms, especially those in higher-risk categories. But there is simply not enough medical staff to fulfill this critical role.

Neuralert is part of the solution to help your medical center provide optimum medical care to allow your hardworking staff to perform all their duties optimally. Our non-invasive wristband technology combined with our patented AI algorithm can recognize stroke induced arm asymmetry, a hallmark symptom of stroke, while eliminating false positives, so your staff knows that when the Neuralert alarm goes off, the patient needs immediate evaluation for potential stroke.

Fast action decreases the severity of the effects of stroke and can shorten the hospital stay and lower morbidity and mortality rates from in-hospital stroke. Contact us today to find out how Neuralert can be part of your COVID-19 stroke prevention strategy.