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COVID-19 Increases Stroke Risk, according to an Orlando Neurologist

People who are younger than 50 and who don’t fit the typical profile of those at high risk of stroke are experiencing blood blockages in the brain when they are infected with COVID-19.

The link between COVID-19 and strokes is related to inflammation caused by the virus that makes people more likely to develop potentially brain-damaging blood clots, according to Dr. Indrani Acosta, a vascular neurologist and medical director for stroke care at AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division in Orlando.

Covid-19 increases risk of stroke.
Photo: Dr. Indrani Acosta

“Right now, in clinical practice, if a patient is admitted with acute ischemic stroke and that patient has a large vessel stroke, is under the age of 50 and has no traditional risk factors for stroke, we are thinking the No. 1 cause is an active infection of COVID-19,” Acosta said on today’s AdventHealth Morning Briefing.

Acosta said the number of patients at AdventHealth’s Central Florida hospitals continued to trend down this last week of May 2021 to about 280 from 300 the previous week. The “steady decline” is the result of more people being protected by the vaccine, she said.

“Less hospitalizations usually means less deaths from the disease, so that is encouraging,” Acosta explained.

But those who have not been vaccinated and become infected continue to experience devastating consequences such as strokes, which can cause speech impairment, paralysis and other neurological deficits. Acosta emphasized the need for everyone to pay attention to their own risk factors for strokes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.

Symptoms of a stroke include:

  • drooping on one side of the face
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • speech impairment
  • vision changes

If you or a loved one are experiencing those symptoms call 9-1-1 immediately because strokes must be treated right away.

Find additional information about Covid-19 here:

This article was published on May 27, 2021. Information about the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, and information may have changed by the time you read this.

Photo credit: CDC and AdventHealth

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