The burgeoning number of reports of strokes in middle-aged people in many hospitals in the United States is the latest twist in our understanding of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
While the coronavirus was believed to be a pathogen that primarily attacked the lungs, it is slowly becoming a much bolder enemy, affecting nearly every major organ system in the body . As a result, there is growing evidence that COVID-19 infection can cause blood to clot correctly. Stroke would be a consequence of it .
Cases have doubled
At Mount Sinai, the largest medical system in New York City, research physician J Mocco has shown that the number of patients admitted with major blockages in the flow of blood to one part of the brain has doubled during the three weeks , even as the number of other emergencies has decreased.
More than half of these cases were positive for covid-19. In the past 12 months, for example, Mount Sinai has treated an average of 0.73 stroke patients under the age of 50 every 2 weeks.
Thus, the Covid-19 patients treated for stroke at Mount Sinai were younger than normal and most did not even have risk factors. On average, covid-19 stroke patients were 15 years younger than stroke patients without coronavirus infection .
In a letter to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine next week, the Mount Sinai team details five case studies of young patients who suffered strokes from March 23 to April 7. The ages of the victims are 33, 37, 39, 44 and 49, and they were all at home when they began to experience sudden symptoms, including slurred speech or confusion. One died, two are still hospitalized, another was released for rehab, and another was eventually released. Only one of the five, a 33-year-old woman, can speak .
The deadliest type of stroke of all
Therefore, for the first time, three major medical centers in the country are preparing to publish data on the phenomenon. There are only a few dozen cases per hospital, but they could provide new insights into what the virus does to our bodies . Some did not even know they were infected with the coronavirus.
The median age for this type of severe stroke is 74 , so the coronavirus appears to overtake it. Analyzes suggest that coronavirus patients are primarily experiencing the deadliest type of stroke of all, known as arterial occlusion in the great vessels, which can destroy large parts of the brain responsible for movement, speech, and decision-making. a single blow because the blockage takes place in the main arteries that supply blood.
The reason for this is unknown. Perhaps we are seeing more young patients because they are more resistant than the elderly to respiratory distress caused by COVID-19: those who survive via the lungs develop other problems over time.
But it is also suspected that these strokes are the result of blood problems produced by the virus that ultimately promote clots in the bodies of some people . These problems could be a direct attack of the virus on the blood vessels or perhaps an effect caused by our own body due to the immune response against the virus. In such a case, in an attempt to fight the virus, the side effect would be that our brains would be damaged.
Those questions are expected to be answered through a review of strokes and other neurological complications in thousands of COVID-19 patients treated at 68 medical centers in 17 countries.
At the moment, we are still only facing a correlation, since there is enough research to find out how the coronavirus can trigger a stroke, but the correlation is so consistent that everything seems to indicate that we are facing a new medical problem that we will have to face as a result of the pandemic .
For that reason, Thomas Oxley , a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, asks people to monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms and call 911 if they have any evidence of a stroke . One way to easily remember the symptoms of facial effusion is the acronym FAST ("fast", in Spanish): "F" for facial paralysis (face), "A" for arm weakness (arm), "S" for difficulty of speech (speach) and "T" for the moment (time).