Researchers have confirmed that having influenza or the Corona virus can increase the risk of stroke, which is the type in which blood flow in the brain is blocked.
While the number of people affected by this condition may be small, understanding the dynamics can help everyone protect themselves, according to Russia Today.
Dr. Mitchell Elkind, professor of neuroscience and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City, said when a stroke strikes a person with influenza or “Covid-19”, it can be the culmination of a long process.
“Long-term risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, cholesterol levels, failure to exercise and malnutrition,” said Elkind, president of the American Heart Association. These factors can pave the way for blood vessel blockage by a blood clot or the accumulation of fat called plaque.
Dr Babak Navi, chief of the Department of Stroke and Neurology at Weill Cornell Hospital in New York, said a sudden event could push the system over the edge and cause an actual stroke. Such an event is called a trigger, “and inflammation is a known trigger.”
Elkind published some early research papers on the links between stroke and infection. More recently, he contributed to studies showing that people who had a flu-like illness were more likely to have a stroke in the days that followed. In one preliminary study from 2019, having an influenza-like illness appeared to increase the odds of having a stroke by 40% within 15 days.
Navi was the co-author of a study published in July in the journal JAMA Neurology showing that among those who came to the emergency room or were hospitalized, contracting “Covid-19” was associated with an increased risk of stroke by more than seven times compared to those treated for influenza.
Navi said it was important to keep these numbers in perspective. Only 0.2% of influenza patients in the study had a stroke, compared to 1.6% of Covid-19 patients.
He explained: “Most of the people who get Covid-19, including most of the patients, to the point that they come to the hospital and are admitted to the intensive care unit, do not have a stroke.”
He pointed out that it is not understood how influenza or the Corona virus can cause a stroke, but it appears that inflammation, which is part of the body’s immune response to infection, is the common link.
“We know that inflammation in general is a risk factor for stroke. It seems that the higher the inflammation, the higher the risk of stroke,” Navi said.
There is also a close link between the immune system and the blood clotting system, Elkind explained. White blood cells are a known protective factor against infection. But clot-forming cells known as platelets attack and engulf viruses as part of the immune response.
Elkind said that a flu-like illness can also lead to dehydration, which may increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
And Elkind and colleagues found that influenza appears to be more stimulating in young adults. He said that the elderly would be worse in terms of the absolute numbers of strokes, and on top of all that, “it appears that the Corona virus has some additional tricks”, as it can attach to the cells that line blood vessels and cause blood clots throughout the body, including the brain .
Researchers continue to collect data on the links between the Coronavirus and stroke. But given the known risks, which were reinforced by a study conducted in August by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that about 1 in 8 adults with influenza in hospital have heart complications, it is not surprising that experts stress the need for vaccination against influenza. This year.
Elkind said the American Heart Association has long recommended a flu vaccine to protect against complications from cardiovascular disease.
In addition to the flu vaccine, Elkind said, everyone should know the warning signs of a stroke, which are a drooping face, weakness of the arm and difficulty speaking.
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