Why Strokes Caused By COVID-19 Could Be More Dangerous

While COVID-19 is known as a respiratory infection that affects the lungs, it has other unusual symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. You may be familiar with some of them, such as a loss of taste or smell, but there are other symptoms that get less attention. For example, eye problems, such as light sensitivity, sore eyes, or pink eye have been reported. Children and young adults might develop a bumpy rash or discolored skin on their fingers and toes. Additionally, older COVID-19 patients could experience confusion as a main symptom.

A more serious symptom of COVID-19 is blood clots that can lead to severe stroke. Healthline explains that the condition causes small blood clots, called microthrombi, to develop. Just like other blood clots, they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. While strokes are typically a problem for older adults, people as young as 30 infected with COVID-19 are also having strokes.

The risk for severe disability is greater in COVID-19 patients

According to research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, people treated for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) who also had COVID-19 were more likely to experience severe disability and death. The study examined 230 patients with AIS, and researchers found that about 50% of the patients had "poor outcomes," with approximately 39% of them dying while in the hospital or within 30 days of discharge. Comparatively, the death rate of people with AIS before the pandemic was 27.6%.

Healthline explains that COVID-19 might lead to a stroke because it causes inflammation that can increase the amount of plaque buildup in blood vessels. These conditions may result in clots, or they can cause blood vessels to rupture.

Symptoms of a stroke include weakness, paralysis, and lack of feeling on one side of the body, one side of the face drooping, and speech impairment, per Healthline. If you experience any of these symptoms, don't wait to call 911.