FRIDAY, March 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A new study adds to mounting evidence that COVID patients have an added risk of stroke.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 20,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with COVID-19 between January and November 2020. The analysis found that their risk of stroke was higher than for patients with other types of infections, including flu.
“These findings suggest that COVID-19 may increase the risk for stroke, though the exact mechanism for this is still unknown,” said lead author Dr. Saate Shakil, a cardiology fellow at the University of Washington.
The new study found that 1.4% of COVID patients had a stroke confirmed by diagnostic imaging.
Of those, 52.7% had an ischemic stroke (caused by blocked blood flow to the brain); 45.2% had a bleeding or unspecified type of stroke; and 2.5% had a transient ischemic attack (also called a mini-stroke or TIA).
COVID patients who suffered a stroke were more likely to be male (64%) and older (average age: 65) than those who didn’t have a stroke (average age: 61).
The study revealed that 44% of ischemic stroke patients had type 2 diabetes, compared with about one-third of patients who didn’t have a stroke. Eight in 10 ischemic stroke patients had high blood pressure, compared to 58% of non-stroke patients.
The heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation was found in 18% in ischemic stroke patients and 9% in those without stroke, the study found.
Stroke patients averaged 22 days in the hospital — 12 days more than patients who didn’t have a stroke.
In-hospital deaths were more than twice as high among stroke patients (37%) than in those without stroke (16%).
Black patients accounted for 27% of COVID patients in the study, and 31% of ischemic stroke cases, according to findings presented Friday at a virtual meeting of the American Stroke Association.
Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“As the pandemic continues, we are finding that coronavirus is not just a respiratory illness, but a vascular disease that can affect many organ systems,” Shakil said in a meeting news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: American Stroke Association, news release, March 19, 2021