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Having a stroke and COVID-19; is there a correlation?

Posted at 3:17 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 22:23:12-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A disturbing trend has been noticed by several doctors in a handful of hospitals in America. Otherwise healthy men in the 20-50 age range, with little to no COVID-19 symptoms, are landing in the emergency room after suffering a stroke. Some of these victims fall into a category of least-likely-to-suffer-a stroke, with most happening in those who are well below the median age for sustaining such a medical episode.

“Anybody, from babies to folks in their very elderly years,” Dr. Larry Goldstein said of the risk of suffering a stroke.

Goldstein, a vascular neurologist at UK Hospital, believes there could be a strong correlation between coronavirus and stroke.

“It’s certainly plausible as we’re learning how COVID-19 can affect the blood coagulation system, and the blood vessels," Goldstein said.

Dr. Goldstein said, for some, a stroke could manifest in the heart, forcing a clot to break off and travel to the brain. Others could have issues in the walls of the blood vessels, while a third factor could be an abnormality within the blood clotting system. All of those factors combined with, or potentially caused by COVID-19, can leave an otherwise healthy person dealing with the devastating consequences of a stroke, if it isn’t dealt with in a timely manner.

“We can reverse the effects of a stroke, even a major stroke, but people have to get to us in time,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein also warned against what some might believe would be a useful method of preventative self-medication.

“We have data that clearly shows that in people who are at low risk for stroke, that taking aspirin outweighs the benefit,” he said.

Goldstein said that pregnant women, whose blood thickens as a biological response to accommodate the fetus, would not be at any greater risk for stroke should they contract the virus during pregnancy.

Anyone experiencing stroke-like symptoms should not avoid going to the emergency room. Dr. Goldstein referenced the “BEFAST” acronym (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, Time) for detecting whether or not you may be experiencing symptoms of a stroke. A feeling of numbness in the arms, or legs, slurred speech, facial paralysis, intense headache, or blurred vision are some of the signs you’d need to look for.