Patients with COVID-19 appear to have a heightened risk for acute ischemic stroke compared with patients with influenza, a study published online in JAMA Neurology has observed.

Alexander E. Merkler, M.D., from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and colleagues compared ischemic stroke risk among 1,916 adult patients with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with COVID-19 (March 4, 2020, through May 2, 2020) and 1,486 adults with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with influenza A/B (Jan. 1, 2016, through May 31, 2018).

The researchers found that 1.6 percent of COVID-19 patients had an acute ischemic stroke. Among patients with stroke, the median age was 69 years and 58 percent were men. For 26 percent, stroke was the reason for hospital presentation. Among patients with influenza, 0.2 percent 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,” the authors advised, “are needed to confirm these findings and to investigate possible thrombotic mechanisms associated with COVID-19.”


REFERENCE: Merkler et al: Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vs Patients With Influenza;