UCSF Fresno Neurologist Points to Connection Between COVID-19, Stroke and Younger People

May is upon us, and it is not an exaggeration to say that nearly all of us have spent much of this spring transfixed by the escalating number of COVID-19 cases, as well as keeping a vigilant watch for any possible sign of infection: a new cough, a sore throat, an unexpected fever, or new shortness of breath.

COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), a name that emphasizes its ability to cause very serious respiratory disease.

However, we in the medical community have increasingly become aware that while respiratory illness is the most well-known manifestation of COVID, there is emerging evidence indicating that this viral illness can also cause other very serious health problems that have not been as well-described. This includes stroke, an emergency condition caused by a disruption of blood flow in the brain, which strikes almost 800,000 Americans annually. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of permanent disability in the United States.

Despite these sobering statistics, those of us who regularly treat stroke typically instruct our patients regarding steps that can be taken to significantly reduce one’s risk of suffering a stroke. These include avoiding smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol use, adhering to a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding obesity; and effectively treating certain chronic medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.