Strokes and COVID-19: 3 new findings

COVID-19's effect on complications among stroke patients and on stroke risk has been the focus of three recent studies. 

1. ​​Older stroke patients with a history of COVID-19 infection were more likely to develop blood clots in the veins than those without, according to preliminary findings published Feb. 3 ahead of  the International Stroke Conference 2022. 

Researchers used Medicare data to examine the association between venous thromboembolism, the formation of blood clots in the veins, and COVID-19 among 235,567 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. 

They found the condition was more prevalent among those hospitalized due to and infected with COVID-19, at 4.4 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. The results of the study translated to a 64 percent higher risk of venous thromboembolism among stroke patients with a history of COVID-19 hospitalization and a 21 percent higher risk among those who'd had COVID-19 but didn't need to be hospitalized.

2. A second study — also set to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11 — found ischemic stroke risk among older adults was highest within the first three days of a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

The study involved analysis of 37,379 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. Stroke hospitalizations that occurred seven days before or 28 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis served as a control period. Findings showed the greatest risk of stroke occurred within the first three days after a COVID-19 diagnosis: about 10 times higher than during the control period. After the first three days, stroke risk quickly declined though still remained higher relative to the control period. 

3. A scoring system may predict which hospitalized COVID-19 patients have a higher stroke risk, according to preliminary findings also being presented during the International Stroke Conference.

Researchers used the American Heart Association's COVID-19 registry — a national database that includes medical and demographic information about hospitalized COVID-19 patients and their cardiovascular risk factors — to develop the scoring system. Based on data from 21,420 adults hospitalized for COVID-19, researchers identified six factors linked to increased stroke risk: a previous stroke; not having a fever; no history of lung disease; a high white blood cell count; high blood pressure; and elevated systolic blood pressure.



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