Stroke risk higher for COVID-19 patients who smoke or vape

Stroke risk higher for COVID-19 patients who smoke or vape
An assessment suggests smoking and vaping could boost the severity of COVID-19 due to blood vessel damage and an increased risk of stroke.

“You will find a growing body of evidence to suggest that, and also the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19, the disease may also cause, among others, neurological effects.”

A recent report from a neurological hospital in the United Kingdom identifies cases of delirium, brain inflammation, nerve damage, and stroke in COVID-19 patients.

Reports of stroke in COVID-19 are particularly prevalent. Some reports estimate that 30% of critically ill COVID-19 patients experience blood clots. And if indeed they occur in the brain, they could trigger a stroke.

Researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center previously discovered that smoking and vaping increases the threat of viral infection. They have now published a review how these activities might influence the chance of neurological dysfunction in COVID-19, particularly from harm to blood vessels in the mind.

They found that both smoking and vaping could improve the threat of stroke in COVID-19 because of harm to the blood-brain barrier and an increased threat of blood clots.

The facts are published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Higher threat of blood clots
Smoking causes well-known harm to the lungs and respiratory system. Previous research has shown that it also will make a person more susceptible to influenza.

Smoking can also have an effect on the vascular system in the brain, prompting the researchers to examine the evidence on how this activity may well affect the neurological symptoms of folks who contract COVID-19.

They first viewed the data on SARS-CoV-2 and neurological disorders, including stroke. They identified one study which demonstrated that 36.4% of COVID-19 patients possessed neurological symptoms. Another paper determined five cases of sudden stroke in COVID-19 patients aged 30-40 years because of abnormal blood clotting within their large arteries.

But how does this relate to smoking? The researchers clarify that when the body can be deprived of oxygen, which happens with smoking, the quantity of clotting factors in the blood increase.

In combo with COVID-19, which also increases blood-clotting proteins, the risk of stroke rises.

“COVID-19 seems to have this capability to boost the risk for blood coagulation, as does smoke. This might in the end translate in higher risk for stroke.”

- Luca Cucullo, Ph.D., Center for Blood-Brain Barrier Research, Texas Tech University Health Sciences 
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