Throughout the course of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospitals have cited alarming decreases in stroke patients, an indication that individuals may be delaying essential medical treatment for stroke symptoms. Even more alarming is the evolving knowledge of how COVID-19 impacts the brain — hospitals have simultaneously reported an anecdotal surge in severe strokes among young and middle-aged people infected with COVID-19, suggesting that this dangerous and mysterious respiratory disease can affect other parts of the body, including the brain.
With low hospital admissions for stroke and an ever-changing understanding of COVID-19, the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is supporting the urgently needed research on biological effects of COVID-19 on the brain.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., causing more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. During Stroke Awareness Month, and a time in which many Americans are reluctant to seek medical care, NIH urges the public to remember that stroke is always an emergency. Now more than ever, it’s critical to call 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke, whether it is numbness on one side, slurred speech, sudden severe headache, or trouble walking.