MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — There are new reports of people in their 30s and 40s who have mild cases of COVID-19 being left debilitated, or dying from strokes. It’s happening in communities hit hard by the coronavirus around the globe.
According to one report in the New England Journal of Medicine, five COVID-19 patients under the age of 50 who suffered large vessel strokes showed up to one New York hospital during just a 2-week period. Prior to this, that hospital reportedly treated on average one patient a month in that age group with large-vessel stroke. Here is that report.
Large vessel occlusions are the deadliest types of strokes and can destroy parts of the brain responsible for movement, speech, and decision-making. The thought is that COVID-19 is causing inflammation that triggers the formation of blood clots.
“It causes an increase in infection and an increase in irritation in the vessel walls which promotes clotting,” said Shelia Ross, DNP at USA Health.
The exact reason doctors are seeing this happen more in younger adult patients is still being studied, but some medical experts believe the majority of younger patients are more resistant to the respiratory distress caused by COVID-19. So those patients may get through the virus attacking the lungs and think they’re well, but they may not be.
“The longer you have that virus in your system and it goes unchecked, the more time it has to cause a problem,” said Ross.
Ross says we may be hearing about more of these stroke cases accompanying coronavirus due to testing.
She said, “There for a while, we didn’t have the tests to test. And so we don’t know how many of these people that have come in were COVID positive.”
Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the “why,” but what they do know is that many patients with true emergencies — like strokes — are avoiding hospitals due to fear of contracting COVID-19 there. With a stroke, time is of the essence.
“A stroke is not going to go away on its own. So if you have one sign or symptom, you call 911 and you get to the hospital. Some people can go 6 hours before the damage hits and it’s permanent. But some people don’t have but 30 minutes. You lose 32,000 brain cells for every second, and if they’re dead, you don’t get them back,” Ross said.
The signs of a stroke are confusion, difficulty understanding, dizziness, numbness, severe headache, trouble speaking and walking, vision changes, and weakness.
Experts seem to be learning new information about the novel coronavirus almost daily, and research is now underway through a review of strokes and other neurological complications in thousands of COVID-19 patients treated at 68 medical centers around the world.
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