Table of Contents
- Coronavirus and Strokes: A Real Life Story
- Coronavirus: Why Young patients More Prone to Strokes
- Blood Clot and Strokes: How Pose Threat to Coronavirus Patients
- What Does Blood Clot Do To Coronavirus Patients?
- How Coronavirus may Contribute to Blood Clotting and Strokes
- Link Between Coronavirus and Strokes: What Studies Suggest
As coronavirus tested people and the death rate from covid-19 across the world are increasing alarmingly, until recently we came to know that coronavirus can only induce extreme respiratory disease. However, as days are progressing along with research on this virus, we also come to learn that coronavirus can also cause severe harm to every vital organ system of our body.
Lately doctors have discovered something very frightening and warn us about an appalling consequence: blood clot and strokes. They also reveal that – hale and hearty young people without showing any signs of the virus and without preexisting health conditions- are falling prey to the strokes.
Fever, cough and breathing problems have been marked as classic symptoms of coronavirus up until recently. Neurologists from all over the world report that a small group of COVID-19 patients are showing serious signs of brain damage. They noticed that somecovid-19 patients display different mental status.
They term this state as encephalopathy for brain impairment or patients show any anomaly in behaviour. Though other underlying causes and pre-existing conditions can add to this mental impairment. Other unusual symptoms like reduced sense of odour and taste. Heart distress can join along with these neurological disorders.
The incident took place in Boca Raton, Florida. In March, a 75 year old with fever and cold got admitted in the emergency room of the hospital. He was diagnosed with many tests. Later, an X-ray report revealed no sign of pneumonia and he was discharged from the hospital.
The following day, his fever got high and family members took him to the hospital. His conditions were so critical that he was having difficulty in breathing and gasping for air. When doctors asked him to tell his name and how he was feeling, he was not able to speak.
Here it is worth mentioning that the old man had some underlying health conditions like enduring lung infection and Parkinson’s. The patient was throwing his arms and legs around and looked like he experienced a seizure.
Doctors were pretty sure that he may catch coronavirus and immediately called for the test. Later the result proved what doctors suspected – he had covid-19.
“The pattern of involvement, and the way that it rapidly progressed over days, is consistent with viral inflammation of the brain. This may indicate the virus can invade the brain directly in rare circumstances.”
Dr. Elissa Fory, a neurologist with Henry Ford Health System, said
A report published in New England Journal of Medicine in April mentioned that doctors in New York City experienced a rare pattern among coronavirus patients. In that report they depicted the cases of 5 young people among who 3 tested positive for covid-19. Their ages vary from 33 -49. All of them went through large-vessel strokes. They suffered strokes because their blood arteries in the brain get clogged and eventually blood fails to reach the brain cells.
In that study, among five people consists only one women aging 33 years. The findings says she was healthy with no preexisting health conditions. Initially, she had those classic symptoms of Covid-19 like coughing, fever, headache etc. She was admitted to hospital with aforementioned symptoms.
And immediate body workup confirmed Covid-19 and later in the week she had suffered a stroke. After she had experienced a stroke, for over a day she faced difficulty while speaking as her jaw muscles cramped. Left side of her body had taken the toll as that side became numb.
The remaining 4 male patients also showed similar patterns – jaw muscle cramp, speech difficulty, numbness etc. later, all of them went under operational knife and doctors successfully were able to remove the clots.
However, earlier when the situation didn’t become pandemic, doctors in New York City observed only a single young patient who suffered a large-vessel stroke. And doctors assume the strokes – caused by blood clots – can have an effect of coronavirus.
“Our report shows a sevenfold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of COVID-19.”
Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai, told
As we are aware, the lungs are the most vulnerable part of our body as coronavirus attacks them easily. When the virus assaults the lungs, some fluids enter them causing severe infection. Subsequently, putting limits in their main function: carrying oxygen from the lungs to blood torrent. And red blood cells work as a media in this transformation process.
Covid-19 patients pose a bigger risk of developing blood clots in veins and arteries. Doctors identified the origin of blood clots in the veins of the legs. Eventually, it can shift to lungs resulting in a restriction in blood and oxygen movement.
People experience heart attacks when blood clots in arteries hamper bloodstream to the heart. Likewise, blood clots cause stroke when oxygen supply to the brain faces shortage.
So what sort of physical complications coronavirus patients are facing? And what kind of measures doctors are undertaking to counter that?
Recent data suggest that people who tested positive of coronavirus and later admitted to intensive care units (ICU), among them 30-60% patients show signs of blood clots in the legs or lungs veins, known as pulmonary embolism.
Statistics show that doctors found signs of pulmonary embolism one in four covid-19 patients. Remember, these conditions are found only in patients’ who are admitted to ICU.
Risk of Stroke: Covid-19
People who lie in the bed of hospitals with Covid-19 have more chances to experience stroke than normal people.
Classically, the aged people are more prone to have a stroke. However, other factors like high blood pressure, uncontrolled cholesterol levels can add to the cause.
However, doctors caught by surprise seeing high rates of strokes in Covid-19 patients. They like to treat it as an anomaly for the time being. The thing that makes them worry is most of the patients are young, aged under 50 and with no preexisting health conditions that can contribute to stroke.
Low Level of Oxygen: Result of Blood Clot
In our body, we see two types of blood vessels, one is tiny and other is big. Tiny blood vessels carry oxygen to other organs. Doctors observed tiny blood vessels of Covid-19 patients affected most with blood clots. Elements of coronavirus have been found in the cells of small blood vessels that are designed towards lungs and guts.
Consequently, these small blood clots can put a limit to normal functionality of lungs. If these tiny blood clots are able to sneak through lungs, it may hamper efficiency of oxygen transfer into the blood. This low oxygen levels in the lungs sums up the story why Covid-19 patients have difficulties in breathing.
Scientists are dumbfounded and yet to find any conclusive data that can articulate what is causing this undue blood clotting among Covid-19 patients. Previous study on other viruses revealed some results. Like Ebola virus induces excessive bleeding, whereas, HIV causes small clots. Doctors are yet to find out if this transformation in blood causes by the virus itself. Or it is the side-effects of our blood vessels’ resistance to the infection.
Researchers are yet to figure out as to why Covid-19 patients showing these neurological signs. One of the theories working with how this virus gets access to our cells. Studies have established that this coronavirus is able to enter into our cell through a precise kind of receptor known as ACE2. This receptor is available all across our body, including guts, hearts, lungs, or even noses.
As Oxley explains, this coronavirus can gel with ACE2 receptors and can live in the walls of blood vessels. When this virus makes contact with vessels, it causes inflammation in the vessels. He suspects that this inflammation leads to blood clotting. Once formed, this clot can make a tour to the brain and cause a stroke.
“The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke,”
However, levels of ACE2 receptors in the blood vessels vary from person to person. This phenomenon depends on a patient’s genetics, not based on their age. This can be a reason why blood clots have been seen in a particular age group.
Scientists are still left in the dark about how this coronavirus affects neurological systems, but doctors don’t sit idle, they are striving hard to find the link between Covid-19 and strokes.
“We absolutely need to have an information finding mission, otherwise we’re flying blind. There’s no ventilator for the brain. If the lungs are broken we can put the patient on a ventilator and hope for recovery. We don’t have that luxury with the brain.”
Said Dr. Sherry H-Y. Chou, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Up until now doctors like to believe that Covid-19 patients are doing well neurologically.
“Most people are showing up awake and alert, and neurologically appear to be normal,”
Said Dr. Robert Stevens, a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Neurological experts are yet to make any ground breaking revelation and are reluctant to jump to the conclusion that this coronavirus puts a direct effect on our neurological system.
Study Results From China
In a latest publication, Chinese researchers claimed that they found some proof that coronaviruses do not keep their presence only in the respiratory tract. The report also stated that they observed signs of the viruses occupying the central nervous system. And the authors of the paper identified it as a potential threat in critical respiratory failure among Covid-19 patients.
However, this respiratory failure has other implications in our brain functions. Dr. Stevens explains the whole situation very articulately. Though he likes to call it a mechanistic explanation due to lack of concrete data.
According to Stevens, the coronaviruses are responsible for respiratory failure. This breathing problem can lead to low levels of oxygen in our bloodstream. Also a surge in carbon dioxide can play a role in this process. Bloodstream having low levels of oxygen can hamper our brain’s normal functionality, and can create conditions like states of confusion, fatigue etc.
“We are still in the early days of this, and we don’t really know for sure.”
Dr. Stevens said.
Another experiment, issued in British medical journal in March, 22% out of 115 patients from Wuhan who succumbed to Covid-19 showed some neurological symptoms like Impaired consciousness – extending from dizziness to coma.
A number of evidence indicates that coronavirus can cause strokes. And researchers found blood clot as a main perpetrator behind this health illness. These blood clots take place when coronavirus causes inflammation in our blood-vessels. Some coronavirus patients show some neurological issues such as dizziness, state of confusion etc.