Doctors have observed stroke and cardiovascular symptoms, including high blood pressure, in a concerning percentage of COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19, like most illness caused by other coronaviruses, is mainly a disease of the respiratory system. However, doctors throughout the world have observed that people with high blood pressure or stroke survivors may be more vulnerable to serious complications after COVID-19 diagnosis. In addition, physicians in highly COVID-19 prevalent locations such as NYC are reporting an increased occurrence of major large artery blockage stroke in otherwise young people without classic stroke risk factors. Despite these observations and despite effective treatments for acute stroke, alarmingly, many hospitals in the US have seen a significant decrease in the average number of patients presenting to the hospital with stroke signs or symptoms.
Efforts to understand how SARS-coV-2 is connected to high blood pressure and stroke are complicated by a lack of rigorous studies. However, growing evidence suggests that COVID-19 infection can cause the blood to clot in unusual ways throughout the body and that the virus may also directly induce head or neck artery blocking or narrowing events.
“This virus is still very new. There are a lot of things we don’t know, such as how it might impact our heart and brain health,” Dr. Thomas, Chairman of the Foundation, said. “The data suggest that people who have a heart condition or vascular disease, or who have had a stroke, are at higher risk of complications if they are infected with COVID-19. So, it is important to do everything you can to avoid infection.” At the same time, JTSSF Board Member Jack Rose, MD adds: “Never hesitate to immediately call 911 if you, a friend, a family member or neighbor have any signs or symptoms of stroke, even if mild or transient.” Hospitals are well prepared to effectively assess and treat acute stroke despite the active pandemic, and keep patients and healthcare workers safe from COVID-19 spread.”
Protecting yourself from exposure to the virus, continuing to take all your medications as prescribed, ensuring that you are eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity will help maintain your heart and brain health. And, of course, it is a good idea to avoid tobacco smoking, vaping, alcohol and recreational drug abuse.
The Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 provide comprehensive up-to-date information regarding safety, symptoms, what do to if someone has been infected, research breakthroughs, travel advice or strategies and plans for reopening the economy.
Meanwhile, JTSSF is steadfast in their commitment to fund and accelerate potentially life-saving stroke research.