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Asians at Higher Risk of COVID-Linked Stroke: Study

MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Asian COVID-19 patients in the United Kingdom have a higher stroke risk than other racial/ethnic groups, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data on 1,470 stroke patients admitted to 13 hospitals in England and Scotland between March and July 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among patients who had an ischemic stroke (one caused by blocked blood flow to the brain), Asians accounted for 19% of those who had COVID-19 when their stroke occurred. That was more than double the proportion of ischemic stroke patients without COVID-19 (7%).

The researchers also found that ischemic strokes in COVID-19 patients were more severe, and more likely to result in disability and death, according to the study published online Nov. 5 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Previous research has suggested that COVID-19 infection might make blood stickier and more apt to clot, leading to an increased risk of stroke.

"Our study suggests that COVID-19 has had more impact on strokes in the Asian community than in other ethnic groups. We cannot say from our data whether this is because Asians are more likely to catch COVID-19, but it seems unlikely that this is the sole explanation," said lead author Dr. Richard Perry, a stroke specialist at National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, in London.

In the United Kingdom, people of Afro-Caribbean origin have the highest risk of COVID-19 infection, while those of Asian descent have only a marginally higher risk than white people, Perry said in a journal news release.

"We suspect, therefore, that Asian people who contract COVID-19 may have a higher risk of COVID-19-associated stroke than is seen in other ethnic groups," he added.

The researchers also assessed the association between COVID-19 and stroke.

"[This] study provides the most compelling evidence yet that COVID-19-associated ischemic strokes are more severe and more likely to result in severe disability or death, although the outlook is not quite as bleak as previous studies have suggested," the authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on stroke.

SOURCE: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, news release, Nov. 5, 2020

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