More research needed into stroke in advanced COVID-19 patients, researchers say
There could be an increased risk of stroke in some patients with COVID-19, new research led by a stroke expert from North Thames has revealed.
The small-scale study is one of the first to examine the relationship between COVID-19 and stroke and suggests more research is needed into the link between the two conditions.
The research suggests that the so-called ‘cytokine storm’, when the immune system goes into overdrive – a symptom of advanced COVID-19 – could lead to abnormal blood clotting in some patients, particularly those with underlying health conditions. This clotting can lead to a stroke, where blood supply to a part of a brain is cut off.
In the study, led by CRN North Thames Stroke Research Specialty Lead, Professor David Werring, experts saw a cluster of six people with ischaemic stroke, caused by the blockage to large blood vessels as a result of the abnormal blood clotting which can occur in some patients with COVID-19.
Professor Werring, also a Professor of Clinical Neurology at University College London, said: “The abnormal blood clotting we see in some patients with COVID-19 might be driven by the virus binding to the lining of blood vessels, known as the endothelium.
“While anti-clotting drugs, such as heparin, reduce the risk of blood clots, after an acute stroke they might increase the risk of potentially serious or fatal bleeding into the brain. We think that trials are needed to assess the benefit of early full-dose heparin ischaemic strokes related to COVID-19.”
The research has been published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.