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COVID-19 May Be Linked To Strokes In Younger People, Report Finds

April 29, 2020
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Recently, there have been reports that COVID-19 patients between 30 and 40 years old are experiencing strokes, despite showing no other cardiovascular risks. While it's too early to name the novel coronavirus as the cause, many doctors and researchers are examining the link between the two. 

Within two weeks, doctors and surgeons at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City treated five patients under the age of 50 for large-vessel strokes1. They reported these cases in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). 

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The numbers were striking in comparison to the past year. According to the report, every two weeks for the past 12 months, they only treated 0.73 patients under the age of 50 with large-vessel stroke, which is a type of stroke caused by interruption of blood flow in one of the main large arteries in the brain.

The patients "were all home when they began to experience sudden symptoms, including slurred speech, confusion, drooping on one side of the face and a dead feeling in one arm," the Washington Post reports.

Like most information surrounding COVID-19, no one can say with certainty why the virus may be linked to strokes in younger people. However, as with strokes, doctors have also found an increase in blood clotting for people testing positive for the virus, according to CNN.

"The number of clotting problems I'm seeing in the ICU, all related to COVID-19, is unprecedented," Jeffrey Laurence, M.D., a hematologist at Weill Cornell Medicine told CNN.

When blood clots travel to the brain, it can cause a stroke, so "some medical centers are taking no chances and have started using blood thinners as an early part of their COVID-19 treatments," J. Mocco, M.D., a Mount Sinai neurosurgeon tells Popular Science. Others are conducting further lab research since this information is still so new. Three large U.S. medical centers are also preparing to publish data on the stroke phenomenon, indicating a few dozen cases per location.

Because of the lack of definitive research, there's currently no official way to predict or prevent these strokes. However, the earlier they're treated the better.

To help you or someone you know identify stroke symptoms, remember the acronym FAST. Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.

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