When COVID-19 patients have an acute ischemic stroke (AIS), it can have an especially devastating effect, according to new findings published in Stroke.
The researchers explored data from 174 patients treated from Jan. 27 to May 19, 2020, at one of 28 facilities in 16 different countries. All patients had COVID-19 and AIS, and the median age was 71.2 years old. Patients were excluded if their COVID-19 infection was recorded after they had suffered a stroke.
To help the team make better comparisons, each patient was matched with another patient who had AIS, but not COVID-19.
Overall, strokes were more severe among patients with COVID-19. According to the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), the strokes experienced by COVID-19 patients had a median score of 10. The strokes experienced by patients without COVID-19, on the other hand, had a median score of six.
“Our findings suggest that COVID-19 associated ischemic strokes are more severe with worse functional outcome and higher mortality than non-COVID-19 ischemic strokes,” wrote lead author George Ntaios, MD, MSc, University of Thessaly in Greece, and colleagues. “The association between COVID-19 and severe stroke highlights the urgent need for studies aiming to uncover the underlying mechanisms and is relevant for prehospital stroke awareness and in-hospital acute stroke pathways during the current and future pandemics, since severe strokes have typically poor prognosis and can potentially be treated with recanalization techniques.”