(HealthDay News) — Patients with COVID-19 appear to have a heightened risk for acute ischemic stroke compared with patients with influenza, according to a study published online in JAMA Neurology.

Alexander E. Merkler, MD, from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and colleagues compared ischemic stroke risk among 1916 adult patients with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with COVID-19 (March 4, 2020 through May 2, 2020) and 1486 adults with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with influenza A/B (Jan 1, 2016, through May 31, 2018).

The researchers found that 1.6% of COVID-19 patients had an acute ischemic stroke. Among patients with stroke, the median age was 69 years and 58% were men. For 26%, stroke was the reason for hospital presentation. Among patients with influenza, 0.2% had an acute ischemic stroke. The likelihood of stroke was higher with COVID-19 infection than with influenza infection when adjusting for age, sex, and race (odds ratio, 7.6). When further adjusting for vascular risk factors, viral symptomatology, and intensive care unit admission, the association between stroke and COVID-19 persisted.

“Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and to investigate possible thrombotic mechanisms associated with COVID-19,” the authors write.


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Reference

Merkler AE, Parikh NS, Mir S, et al. Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vs Patients With Influenza [published online July 2, 2020]. JAMA Neurol. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.2730