To many people, this brain disease is the first symptom of COVID-19

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In a recent study at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute, researchers examined the link between COVID-19 and stroke to better understand the risk in patients and aid in treatment planning.

They found that many patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 will suffer a stroke, and 35% will die as a result of both conditions.

The study is published in Neurology. One author is Dr. Luciano Sposato.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been working to better understand the varied symptoms of the disease.

One of the most concerning symptoms is the development of large blood clots that can cause blockages in the arteries that lead to the brain and causing stroke.

In the study, the team did a systemic review of published cases of COVID-19 and stroke and pooled that data with another 35 unpublished cases from Canada, the U.S., and Iran.

In total, the team examined 160 cases, looking at both clinical characteristics and in-hospital mortality.

The researchers reported that in patients younger than 50, nearly 50% had no other visible symptoms of the virus at the time of stroke onset.

They also found that the interplay of older age, other chronic conditions, and the severity of COVID-19 respiratory symptoms are associated with an extremely elevated risk of death.

The researchers say understanding the interplay between COVID-19 and stroke is important for treatment planning, especially in areas where COVID-19 is actively circulating in the community.

The take-home message here for health care providers is that if they are seeing a patient with a stroke, particularly in those under 50 years old with large clots, they need to think of COVID-19 as a potential cause even in the absence of respiratory symptoms.

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