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Updated date: Thursday, 2 July, 2020

The Stroke Association, health and social care professionals, and researchers are continuing to deliver stroke services and study coronavirus and stroke.

There is growing evidence that the coronavirus may be linked to problems with the brain, including stroke in some people. This research has been reported in the news and it is understandable that people are concerned.

Some of the news is based on reports from hospitals, including in the UK, that show there have been a number of adults that have had a stroke whilst also having the coronavirus. 

Researchers still need to find out how coronavirus may be linked to stroke because:

  • There are records of only a fairly small number of stroke patients, with more severe coronavirus infection. This is not enough people for researchers to understand a link between stroke risk and coronavirus. 

There is a small amount of evidence that patients with coronavirus have increased blood clotting. But we don’t yet know how this could increase the risk of stroke, for whom, or what the most appropriate treatments are.

  • There is no way for researchers to know whether the patient’s stroke was linked to them having coronavirus, or whether it was just a coincidence.

  • The studies couldn’t take into account other things that could have increased the risk of stroke in these stroke patients, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

In order to understand any possible links between coronavirus and risk of stroke, we need detailed information about big groups of stroke patients. 

The research so far is helpful for healthcare professionals and researchers to inform how coronavirus patients could be treated and future research studies. We welcome more research to address questions we don’t yet have answers for about a link between coronavirus and problems with the brain. 

Stroke happens every five minutes in the UK and it is likely that some people with coronavirus may have a stroke at the same time. But since March, there has been a drop in the number of people admitted to hospital with a stroke. Right now, it’s most important that you act FAST by calling 999 if you or someone you know has the signs of stroke. If you also have the symptoms of coronavirus, you should tell the paramedics.

We are working with stroke researchers and healthcare professionals to understand coronavirus and its effects and we will continue to analyse new findings when they are published.