By Erica Carbajal and Cailey Gleeson

COVID-19’s effect on stroke risk and complications among stroke patients has been the focus of two recent studies. 

​​Older stroke patients with a history of COVID-19 infection were more likely to develop blood clots in the veins than those without, according to preliminary findings published Feb. 3 ahead of  the International Stroke Conference 2022. 

Researchers used Medicare data to examine the association between venous thromboembolism, the formation of blood clots in the veins, and COVID-19 among 235,567 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. 

They found the condition was more prevalent among those hospitalized due to and infected with COVID-19, at 4.4 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. The results of the study translated to a 64 percent higher risk of venous thromboembolism among stroke patients with a history of COVID-19 hospitalization and a 21 percent higher risk among those who’d had COVID-19 but didn’t need to be hospitalized.

A second study — also set to be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11 — found ischemic stroke risk among older adults was highest within the first three days of a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

The study involved analysis of 37,379 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. Stroke hospitalizations that occurred seven days before or 28 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis served as a control period. Findings showed the greatest risk of stroke occurred within the first three days after a COVID-19 diagnosis: about 10 times higher than during the control period. After the first three days, stroke risk quickly declined though still remained higher relative to the control period. 

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