FRIDAY, May 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 hasn't increased the risk for stroke, but when a stroke occurs it's more likely to be fatal, a new study finds.
According to researchers, less than 1% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 suffer a stroke. But they also found that people with COVID-19 who suffer a stroke are seven times more likely to die than people who have a stroke but aren't infected with COVID-19.
"Our study suggests that stroke is an uncommon yet important complication of coronavirus, given that these strokes are more severe when compared with strokes occurring in patients who tested negative for the virus," lead researcher Dr. Shadi Yaghi said in a New York University news release. He's an assistant professor in the department of neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.
For the study, Yaghi and his team identified 32 stroke patients among more than 3,500 being treated for COVID-19 at NYU hospitals between March 15 and April 19.
They compared these patients with stroke patients without the virus. The researchers found that stroke patients with COVID-19 had more severe symptoms than those without the virus. During the study period, 63% died, compared with 9% of those without the virus and 5% of those who had a stroke before the pandemic.
These findings add to the evidence that COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk for clotting, which can trigger a stroke, the researchers said.
"Our findings provide compelling evidence that widespread blood-clotting may be an important factor that is leading to stroke in patients with COVID-19," said study co-author Dr. Jennifer Frontera, a professor in the department of neurology at NYU.
"The results point to anticoagulant, or blood thinner therapy, as a potential means of reducing the unusual severity of strokes in people with the coronavirus," Frontera added in the release.
The report was published May 20 in the journal Stroke.
For more on stroke, see the American Stroke Association.