Published on May 31, 2021

Stroke Awareness Month: COVID-19 and Stroke Risk

By: Cyndi Whetstone, BSN, RN, Stroke Coordinator

May is stroke awareness month and while it’s always a good time to refresh yourself on the signs and symptoms of a stroke, this year it may be especially important with the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and Stroke Risk

According to recent studies, individuals who had COVID-19 may be at an increased risk for experiencing a stroke. In many cases, the patients in the study who experience stroke did not present typical symptoms of COVID-19 (shortness of breath, fever, etc.) and did not have any known pre-existing risk factors.

While studies are still being conducted and doctors are still examining possible connections between COVID-19 and stroke, they hypothesize that it’s because COVID-19 targets the brain and the blood vessels in the brain. Additionally, COVID-19 affects the heart and can cause irregular heart rhythm which can create a clot that can then migrate to the brain and produce a stroke.

Recognizing a Stroke

Since we know COVID-19 may put you at an increased risk for stroke, it’s important to understand what stroke looks like so you can recognize it in yourself and others should it ever occur. Knowing the common stroke warning signs and what to do someone is having a stroke can be the difference between recovery and disability. The acronym BE FAST can help you remember these signs:

  • B – Balance. Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
  • E – Eyes. Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
  • F – Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech Difficulty. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T – Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Stroke Care at Fisher-Titus

Fisher-Titus is a certified Primary Stroke Center through the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program. This means that we have the ability to stabilize and treat acute stroke patients, provide acute care, and administer tPA and other acute therapies safely and efficiently.

Additionally, Fisher-Titus received the 2020 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s (AHA/ASA) Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus achievement award. We were also recognized as a recipient of the Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Award.