Though the novel coronavirus, as of late, has been predominantly viewed as a disease that may be fatal to those who are elderly or immunocompromised, the Washington Post reported Saturday that US hospitals within areas most impacted by COVID-19 have identified a new trend of strokes among virus-infected patients that does not appear to discriminate based on age.
Recently, hospitals have reported an uptick in emergency stroke patients within their 30s and 40s, who also happen to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, despite the median age for sufferers of the type of stroke seen in these patients being 74, according to the Post.
With confirmed global COVID-19 cases having surpassed 3 million and related deaths totaling well over 200,000 as of Monday, the urgency to make sense of the virus’s impact on the human body has continued to be of the utmost importance.
Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies that individuals aged 65 and older make up 79% of novel coronavirus fatalities in the country, and nearly 92% of the reported deaths have been among those aged 55 and older.
According to analyses cited by the Post, most younger COVID-19 patients experiencing these strokes are specifically having a large vessel occlusion (LVO) - a severe and deadly stroke that occurs due to a significant blockage in one of the major arteries of the brain and can disrupt higher-order brain functions, such as movement and speech.
“We are used to thinking of 60 as a young patient when it comes to large vessel occlusions,” Eytan Raz, an assistant professor of neuroradiology at New York University (NYU) Langone Health, told the Post. “We have never seen so many in their 50s, 40s and late 30s.”
Researchers studying the link believe the LVOs in novel coronavirus patients are attributable to the blood clotting that has been observed in infected patients.
While the number of reported stroke cases experienced by COVID-19 patients is low in comparison to the overall confirmed novel coronavirus cases across the country, the link pushes back against the previous assumption that the novel coronavirus only attacks, or may have lasting effects, on the respiratory system.
In response to this identified trend, researchers from Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, NYU Langone Health and the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan have teamed up and are planning to publish a paper - currently in the peer review process - which seeks to make the stroke data public and deliver insight into just what the novel coronavirus is capable of doing to the human body across all age groups.