The Link Between Stroke and COVID-19 Infection

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Image by Anna Shvets

COVID-19 infection is known to be a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus that affects your upper and lower respiratory tract, which is from your nose down to your lungs. However, an alarming increase of stroke deaths among COVID-19 positive young and middle-aged individuals have raised concerns across the health industry. Not to mention all the other stroke incidents among older age groups associated with the virus.

Even though most of the COVID-19 cases only manifested mild and moderate symptoms, the virus can also cause severe medical complications that can lead to mortality in some individuals. The complication associated with the COVID-19 infection is restricted to the respiratory system and other medical conditions such as stroke. 

Stroke Related To COVID-19 Infection 

The SARS-COV-2 virus can cause thrombotic vascular events such as stroke to individuals that are infected. Therefore, some COVID-19 patients can suffer from a stroke. Health care providers have seen a higher incidence of infarction among patients positive with COVID-19 than con-COVID-19 patients. 

This incident is what triggered researchers to study the link between stroke and the COVID-19 infection. Based on the retrospective case-control study conducted in March 2020, there is a significant link between stroke and COVID-19. 

Out of the 123 patients involved in the study, 46.3% of patients with acute ischemic stroke or 19 out of the 14 cases were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, while the control group of 82 individuals only have 15 or 18.3%.

There has also been a frequency of ischemic stroke in young individuals that is positive with COVID-19 and has no vascular risk factor, which raises the possibility that the SARS-Cov-2 virus is responsible. 

Additionally, ischemic stroke is more common in association with COVID-19 than hemorrhagic stroke. This event concluded that COVID-19 infected patients should undergo strict monitoring for a possibility of stroke. 

Why COVID-19 Infection Can Lead to Stroke

The stroke induced by the SARS-Cov-2 virus is a result of a phenomenon called cytokine release syndrome or the cytokine storm. This event is described as an acute systemic inflammation that results in a hypercoagulable state

Another possibility that causes a stroke to COVID-19 patients is high levels of c-reactive protein and D-Dimer, which can be found in stroke survivors. It concludes that stroke patients have a higher risk of recurrence when they acquire the COVID-19 virus. 

Other medical conditions are also associated with strokes, such as heart disease and diabetes. We already know that severe COVID-19 cases have morbidities that often result in mortality. 

Advice For Stroke Survivors  

To avoid stroke associated with the COVID-19 infection is to avoid being infected in the first place. Even a healthy person will likely have a stroke when infected with the virus. Even if you do not have any history or current medical condition, it is best to be more careful. 

On the other hand, for stroke survivors, you are the ones who have a high possibility of a stroke during a COVID-19 infection, which is why you should be more vigilant and follow proper health and hygiene protocols. 

Critical prevention is critical for stroke survivors. Stay at home as much as possible. There are so many options available for individuals who do not want to go outside to acquire necessities like groceries and medicines. 

You can opt for an online grocery website to order any grocery item online and let it deliver to your doorstep. Online pharmacies are also now widely available, especially for high-risk individuals to keep them at home. You can check out this website for a full list of medicines available that you can order online. 

Only go out for medical purposes like a doctor’s appointment or therapy sessions. When you are outside, maintain 6 feet distance from other people and always wear your mask. Apply a hand sanitizer frequently and don’t stay out for a long period. 

It is also best to ensure that other household members follow proper hygiene protocol and never forget to regularly disinfect your home. Additionally, do not forget to keep yourself healthy by eating healthy food and taking vitamins regularly along with your medications.

Exercising will also help boost your immune system and mental health. A 30-minute aerobics or gardening a day is enough to fulfill your daily fitness goal. Exercise can also help improve physical impairments caused by the stroke, along with physical therapy. 

More studies are still being conducted for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, especially that multiple mutations have already been reported worldwide. If these mutations significantly affect the previous studies that have already been conducted, they are yet to be known. 

However, it is best to focus on the information we currently have to act accordingly, especially the health care providers who are taking care of the COVID-19 patients. Prevention of acquiring the virus is still the best way to avoid these complications, especially for stroke survivors. 

It is also encouraged to seek medical help as soon as possible if you think you are having a stroke. Do not let fear get in the way, as stroke is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated fast to prevent long term damage or death. 

Takeaway

Complications from the COVID-19 infections are the causes of deaths among the infected. As per the studies conducted, the evidence is present to conclude that one of the expected complications of COVID-19 infection is a stroke that can result in a heart attack. 

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