Pioneering study launched into long-term impacts of Covid on stroke survivors

A first-of-its-kind study has been launched into the long-term impact of Covid-19 on stroke survivors.

Funded by the Stroke Association, it will be led by researchers at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) alongside Dr Terry Quinn at Glasgow University.

The Stroke Association has warned of widespread reports of adults with Covid-19 also having strokes, amid theories the virus could increase the chance of blood clots forming in the brain.

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Dr Richard Perry, from UCLH, will follow up to 4,000 stroke survivors, with and without the virus, across 13 emergency stoke units.

Dr Rubina Ahmed, Research Director at Stroke AssociationDr Rubina Ahmed, Research Director at Stroke Association
Dr Rubina Ahmed, Research Director at Stroke Association

Recovery, rehabilitation and health will be tracked for up to 18 months after the stroke.

Researchers will collect and assess brain scans, blood samples and measures of disability. The findings will help to understand how Covid-19 impacts stroke recovery and which treatments might best support survivors’ recoveries.

Dr Quinn said: “Research that compares stroke in patients with and without Covid-19 is essential to understand if Covid-19 results in more severe strokes, where survivors will need more support to recover from its devastating effects.

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"From the beginning of the pandemic, I would see patients admitted with unusual strokes, who would then go on to have a positive Covid-19 test. This vital research will help us understand why this happens.

“The findings from this year-long study will inform decisions about the most effective treatment and the rehabilitation needs of this group of patients, including prevention of recurrent stroke.

"We already know that from the moment a person has a stroke or mini-stroke, they are at substantial increased risk of further strokes."

Dr Rubina Ahmed, research director at the Stroke Association, said: “Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability in the UK and the second biggest killer in the world.

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"It’s extremely concerning that we’re seeing strokes happening in ways we have not seen before.

"This research is absolutely critical in understanding and treating stroke after Covid-19, to help reduce the devastating effects and ultimately improve lives.

"Covid-19 is here to stay, so it’s vital we can prevent and treat strokes linked with the virus.”

The results of this study will be looked at in tandem with another launched by the Stroke Association in February to examine whether Covid-19 increases the risk of stroke and by how much.

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