Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions are at risk of experiencing severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Younger people appeared to experience only mild illness, but doctors warn that the viral infection may cause sudden strokes.
COVID-19, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), can cause sudden strokes in adults, between the age of 30 to 40, even those who are feeling well.
Dr. Thomas Oxley, who is a surgeon at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, said that about five adults below the age of 50 who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, appeared to have suffered a severe stroke due to blood clot formation in large arteries.
“Our report shows a seven-fold increase in the incidence of a sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of COVID,” Dr. Oxley said.
Stroke patients positive for COVID-19
The doctor also reported that all the patients he treated were all COVID-19 positive. Young adults are unusual to suffer from stroke, especially in the large blood vessels in the brain. Stroke risk increases with age, but it can happen at any age. Usually, those who are more than 65 years old are at a heightened risk of having a stroke.
A stroke occurs when the blood flow becomes interrupted sue to the abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain. Blood clot formation increases the risk of a stroke, as well as the increased pressure in the blood vessels.
For comparison, the hospital has treated an average of 0.73 patients under the age of 50 years every two weeks due to large vessel stroke. The number is equivalent to two people in a month. However, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, the hospital had already treated five patients.
COVID-19 patients are more likely to suffer a stroke due to an underlying medical condition such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Second, they are also experiencing a cytokine storm, which causes the immune system’s overreaction to an infection. It turns the immune system against itself, causing a multitude of complications. Lastly, COVID-19 patients appeared to have a higher risk of blood clot formation, which is considered an alarming medical phenomenon.
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Stroke is a life-threatening condition. A stroke in the large blood vessel in the brain may cause severe and irreversible damage if it is not treated promptly. Dr. Oxley said that at least one patient had died, while others are fighting for their lives in the intensive care unit and rehabilitation centers.
Large vessel stroke in the brain causes severe complications. Also, if it happens in the large vessel, it means that the blood clot is big. When a blood clot impedes blood supply to the brain, the brain cells will die due to the lack of oxygen.
“The most effective treatment for large vessel stroke is clot retrieval, but this must be performed within 6 hours, and sometimes within 24 hours," Oxley said.
Patients should get immediate treatment in hospitals in the advent of a stroke. The doctors worry that most patients are hesitant in calling 911 or emergency services since they know that hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus cases. Dr. Oxley emphasized that patients who may have COVID-19 to watch out for signs and symptoms of a stroke.
There are many arising complications of coronavirus infection noted by doctors and scientists. First, it was noted as a respiratory illness causing breathing problems and pneumonia. As more information becomes available, many complications have emerged, including cytokine storm, kidney failure, heart failure, and increased blood clot formation.
Globally, the coronavirus disease has now infected over 2.7 million people and killed more than 190,000. The United States remains the country with the highest infection cases and death toll, with 868,395 cases and more than 49,887 deaths.