Home Stroke Is there a link between COVID-19 and strokes?

Is there a link between COVID-19 and strokes?


One young, healthy coronavirus patient ended up with a stroke weeks later.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — There may be only a few degrees of separation between you and COVID-19 these days. A lot of families have been dealing with the coronavirus and others have even lost their loved ones.

For ABC10’s Keristen Holmes, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of three friends. One of her best friends recovered from the virus but that recovery came with unexpected long-term effects.

“I had a stroke at 33 years old,” Brian Williams shared.

Keristen and Brian have known each other since they attended middle school together. Their parents are neighbors.

Brian caught COVID-19 in March. “I was down for a good week and a half,” Brian said. “It was the three-week timeframe of no taste or smell that was the worse part.”

When Brian shared with his friends that he had coronavirus, because he was so young and healthy, they all figured he would be fine. Then a few weeks later things took a scary turn. Brian suffered a transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke.

“It came out of nowhere. I didn’t have any symptoms leading up to it. I didn’t have anything that indicated that I should be looking out for a stroke,” Brian said. “It literally happened. And when it happened, it affected my speech. So when it happened I had garbled speech. I couldn’t get words out and when I got words out, they didn’t make sense at all.”

As doctors tried to figure out where Brian’s stroke came from, Keristen checked with Dr. Thomas Hopkins in Roseville. She asked if there was a link between COVID-19 and strokes.

“The inflammation process is really robust inside the lungs but we also know that it’s robust inside the blood vessels and it could cause a stroke,” Dr. Hopkins said.

COVID-19 is so new that we are still learning about its long term effects. The American Heart Association is studying the link between COVID-19 and strokes in young, otherwise healthy adults, like Brian.

Dr. Hopkins says everyone should protect themselves and stay vigilant about their health. “If you’re vaping, if you’re smoking, if you have diabetes, heart disease. If you have lung disease. These are conditions that will put you at greater risk.”

Brian said this virus doesn’t discriminate in race or age. “This is something you should not be taking lightly. At all costs you should be protecting yourself,” he shared. “It’s very serious and it’s very dangerous.”

Brian now has to take medication to help prevent another stroke. Brian says if there’s one thing anyone can get from his story it’s to wear a mask, wash your hands and prevent the spread of coronavirus, because even if you survive the virus, the long-term effects may not be the life you bargained for.

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