Last updated October 2023
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Stroke survivors and Covid-19
Having a stroke means you are at greater risk of complications which could make you more unwell if you have Covid-19. But you can help to stay safe by following advice such as getting vaccinated, regular handwashing, and good ventilation.
Having some other health conditions can affect your risk of becoming very unwell with Covid-19. Speak to your GP or clinician for advice about what you should do.
If you have a condition that reduces your immunity, check with a health professional for individual advice. Current Government guidance for adults who are immuno-suppressed includes trying to avoid contact with people who have Covid-19 symptoms, and keeping your home well-ventilated if you have visitors.
You can find general advice about coronavirus on these links below:
Help with Covid symptoms
For advice on what to do if you have Covid symptoms, visit the NHS online information pages.
You do not have to contact NHS 111 if you have Covid symptoms. But you should use the NHS 111 online service if:
- You are worried about your symptoms or feel you cannot cope with them at home.
- Your condition gets worse.
- Your symptoms do not get better or you have a persistent high temperature.
Call 111 or your GP if you can't use the online service.
Stroke symptoms and Covid-19
If you or someone you know has stroke symptoms, call 999. Even if you have Covid-19, you will be taken to hospital and given emergency treatment. You can read more about the FAST test for stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke).
Attending medical appointments
Medical appointments are sometimes online or over the phone. If you have an in-person appointment, the healthcare provider may send you information about any Covid guidelines before your appointment. If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider to check if you need to postpone your appointment.
Stroke risk and vaccines
Can Covid-19 increase my risk of a stroke?
Covid-19 can give you a 20 times higher risk of a stroke in the first few weeks after having Covid-19. Your risk stays slightly heightened for about a year after infection. This was discovered through research funded by the Stroke Association. You can read an article about this research.
Can vaccines for Covid-19 cause a stroke?
The vaccine produced by Astra Zeneca was linked to a small number of cases of a rare condition that causes severe blood clots in the brain in 2021. This vaccine is no longer available in the UK, and the vaccines now in use do not cause this blood-clotting condition.
We do get calls from people who had their stroke soon after the vaccine, and are worried that the vaccine was the cause. It's not always possible to identify the exact cause of a stroke. Things like high blood pressure, heart conditions and high cholesterol can raise your risk, and stroke is much more common in older people.
Doctors try to find your risk factors, but some strokes don't have an obvious cause. A stroke can happen at any time of the day or night. It can happen while you are sleeping, at work, at home or outdoors. Because millions of people across the UK have had the vaccine, it makes it more likely that some will have their strokes in the days or weeks after a vaccination.
If you have had a stroke or blood clot soon after a vaccine and you think it was a side effect of the vaccine, you can report to the Yellow Card Scheme which monitors side effects of all the drugs in the UK.
You can also get individual advice about vaccines and stroke from your stroke team or GP.
What are the benefits of being vaccinated?
Covid-19 can give you a 20 times higher risk of a stroke soon after infection. Having a vaccination can reduce your risk of getting infected, which helps you to avoid a post-Covid stroke.
Should I have the vaccine if I've recently had a stroke?
Soon after a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke), you have a higher risk of having another stroke. On top of that, our research shows that having Covid-19 also increases your risk of a stroke. By getting a vaccination, you can reduce your risk of having a post-Covid stroke. So we are encouraging everyone affected by stroke or at risk of stroke to have the vaccinations they are offered. Ask your GP or pharmacist for individual advice if you have any questions about your health or treatment.
Can I get the Covid booster and flu vaccines at the same time?
Yes, it's fine to get the Covid booster and your flu vaccines at the same time.
These come as two separate vaccines and you might not get them both in the same arm. So, if you've got one-sided weakness or an atrophied muscle in one of your arms, you should speak to your GP about where to have your vaccines. They might suggest having them at different times, or having one of them in your leg, which some people prefer.
Are the vaccines and booster safe for stroke survivors who are taking medication, such as blood thinners and statins?
Yes, you can normally have a Covid jab while you are on medication.
If you are on blood-thinning medication, you can ask your GP or consultant if you have a risk of bleeding or bruising at the injection point. Most people can still have the jab if their condition is stable.