According to a new study, COVID-19 positive patients with neurological problems, including stroke and confusion, have a higher risk of dying than others infected with the virus.
These findings, published in the journal Neurology, have the potential to identify and focus treatment efforts on individuals most at risk and could also decrease COVID-19 deaths.
The author of the study, David Altschul from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US said that this is the first study to show that the presence of neurological symptoms, particularly stroke and confused or altered thinking, may indicate a more serious course of illness.
Moreover, when pulmonary problems aren’t severe, hospitals can use this knowledge to prioritise treatment and hopefully, save more lives during this pandemic he added.
Data from 4,711 COVID-19 patients that were admitted to Montefiore during the six-week period from March 1 to April 16, 2020, were taken for the study. Among those patients, 581 (12%) had neurological problems that were serious enough to warrant brain imaging.
The same individuals were compared with 1,743 non-neurological COVID-19 patients of similar age and disease severity who were admitted during the same period.
55 people were diagnosed with a stroke, and 258 people exhibited confusion among those who underwent brain imaging.
The study also showed that individuals with stroke were twice as likely to die (49% mortality) compared with their matched controls (24% mortality) which according to the study is a big significant difference.
In the study, more than half of the stroke patients did not have hypertension or other underlying risk factors for stroke.
Altschul also noted that the highly unusual finding agrees with other studies of people with COVID-19 in suggesting that infection with the virus is itself a risk factor for stroke.
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