Study finds patients infected with COVID-19 has an increased risk of getting strokes

COVID-19 is significantly associated with an increased risk of strokes, according to a study which says patients infected with the novel coronavirus should undergo aggressive monitoring for the neurological condition.

According to the researchers, including those from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the US, COVID-19 infection is a risk factor for acute strokes.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, the scientists assessed patients presenting to six New York City hospitals for suspicion of stroke between March to April.

We conducted a retrospective case-control study of 41 cases and 82 control subjects matched by age, sex, and risk factors,” the scientists wrote in the study.

After adjusting for age, gender, and risk factors, the scientists found that COVID-19 infection had a significant independent association with acute ischemic stroke — caused by a clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain.

Comparing the group of patients with stroke versus non-stroke, they showed a significantly elevated number of patients with COVID-19 infection among the stroke group after accounting for other known common stroke risk factors.

The researchers believe that patients with COVID-19 should be evaluated early for acute neurological changes.

“This is the first major peer-reviewed study to show that COVID-19 infection is a risk factor for acute strokes,” Puneet Belani, study co-author from Mount Sinai Hospital.

“Patients with COVID-19 should be evaluated early for acute neurological changes, and timely workup should be performed in patients suspected to have stroke to reduce morbidity and mortality,” Belani said.

Citing the limitations of the study, the scientists said the study involved only 41 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, adding that further studies involving a larger population may help validate the findings.

“Future endeavours may assess whether this relationship holds true in a larger population and with the pathophysiologic mechanisms inherent in COVID-19 that drive this association,” they wrote in the study.