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Ethnicity affects COVID stroke risk - while statins may protect

Friday November 6th 2020

The COVID-19 virus seems to double the risk of stroke for people of Asian descent, British researchers reported today.

The findings emerged from a study of ischaemic stroke patients conducted by University College London, UK, and reported in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

The findings come from a comparison of 86 people who suffered stroke following COVID infection and compared with another 1,384 stroke patients.

The study also suggests that a COVID stroke doubles the risk of subsequent disability for patients – and the illness is twice as likely to involve the blockage of more than one blood vessel as normal ischaemic stroke.

High levels of D-dimers also suggested the virus increases the stickiness of the blood, the researchers report.

Researcher Dr Richard Perry said: "Our study suggests that COVID-19 has had more impact on strokes in the Asian community than in other ethnic groups. We cannot say from our data whether this is because people of Asian descent are more likely to catch COVID-19, or whether Asian patients with COVID-19 are more likely to have ischaemic strokes, or both."

He added: "Evidence from Public Health England suggests that, in the UK, people of Afro-Caribbean origin are at the highest risk of catching COVID-19, whereas those of Asian descent have only a marginally higher risk than White people. We suspect, therefore, that Asian people who contract COVID-19 may have a higher risk of COVID-19-associated stroke than is seen in other ethnic groups."

Fellow researcher Professor David Werring said: "Our findings suggest that in some people, COVID-19 may influence stroke risk through its effect on excessive blood clotting or inflammation, and may also influence the characteristics and outcome of the stroke, including greater severity with a higher chance of multiple large vessel blood clots.

"Our findings support testing people for COVID-19 if they come into hospital with a stroke, and further research is needed to determine whether treatments (such as the use of early full dose anticoagulation) should differ depending on this test result."

* A second study from Spain has found that being on statins reduced the risk of dying from the virus by up to 25%. The research involved more than 2,000 patients in 19 hospitals in Catalonia.

Researchers found that fewer than 20% of patients on statins died compared with more than 25% of others, according to the report in European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

Researcher Dr Lluís Masana, of Universitat Rovira i Virgili, said: “Not only do these findings demonstrate that treatment with statins has no negative on the evolution of COVID-19, they also show that it significantly reduces patient mortality.”

Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 6 November 2020

[abstract]

European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy 4 November 2020

[abstract]

Tags: Asia | Europe | Flu & Viruses | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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