People Infected With COVID-19 Have Increased Risk Of Stroke: Study

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Healthy young people infected with the deadly novel coronavirus may have a higher risk of stroke irrespective of the fact that they show symptoms of the disease or not, according to a small observational study.

COVID-19 patients with stroke were analysed by the researchers, at Thomas Jefferson University in the United States, and colleagues from March 20 until April 10 at their institutions. The study, published on Thursday in the journal Neurosurgery, stated that the strokes they observed were unlike what they usually see.

“We were seeing patients in their 30s, 40s, and 50s with massive strokes, the kind that we typically see in patients in their 70s and 80s,” said Pascal Jabbour from Thomas Jefferson University.

The study examined and characterised strokes in people tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, done in collaboration with surgeons from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, US.

“Although we have to stress that our observations are preliminary, and based on observations from 14 patients, what we have observed is worrying,” said Jabbour. “Young people, who may not know they have the coronavirus, are developing clots that cause major stroke,” he said.

There were 14 patients who were observed by researchers when they visited their neurointerventional room for stroke. Out of 14 patients, eight were male and six were female. 50 per cent did not know they had the coronavirus, while the remainder were already being treated for other symptoms of the disease when they developed stroke.

Previous studies have shown that the coronavirus enters human cells via a very specific access point – a protein on human cells called ACE2, the researchers noted. However, the coronavirus latches onto this protein and uses it as a gateway into the cell, where the virus can replicate, they said.

Jabbour and colleagues speculate that the virus may be interfering with this receptor’s normal function, which controls blood flow in the brain, in addition to using it as an entry point to the cell. Another possibility, the researchers said, is that the inflammation of the blood vessels causing vasculitis with injury to the cells lining the lumen of the vessel, called endothelium and causing micro thrombosis in small vessels.

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