As confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 began ramping up in various continents, researchers have been keen on understanding the symptoms of the disease, particularly the neurological implications.
Published in the journal Neurology, a research team at the University of Western Ontario found that a stroke could be a first presenting symptom of the recent coronavirus strain among young patients.
“One of the most eye-opening findings of this study is that for patients under 50 years old, many were totally asymptomatic when they had a stroke related to COVID-19. This means that for these patients, the stroke was their first symptom of the disease,” said Luciano Sposato, co-author of the study.
For the study, researchers initiated a systematic search and landed on 10 studies associating stroke frequency with COVID-19 cases.
“We applied random-effects meta-analyses to estimate the proportion of stroke among COVID-19. We performed an additional systematic search for cases series of stroke in COVID-19 patients and we pooled these data with 35 unpublished cases from Canada, USA, and Iran,” the findings state.
“We analyzed clinical characteristics and in-hospital mortality stratified into age groups (<50, 50-70, >70 years). We applied cluster analyses to identify specific clinical phenotypes and their relationship with death.”
According to the findings, the number of COVID-19 patients with stroke, particularly those below the age of 50, was significantly high.
“Large vessel occlusion was twice as frequent (46.9%) as previously reported and was high across all age groups, even in the absence of risk factors or comorbidities,” the co-authors stated in the journal article.
“A clinical phenotype characterized by older age, a higher burden of comorbidities, and severe COVID-19 respiratory symptoms, was associated with the highest in-hospital mortality (58.6%) and a 3x higher risk of death than the rest of the cohort.”
“The take-home message here for health care providers is that if you are seeing a patient with a stroke, particularly in those under 50 years old with large clots, you need to think of COVID-19 as a potential cause even in the absence of respiratory symptoms,” Sposato concluded in a published statement.