Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Stroke

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDJuly 30th, 2020
woman wearing a mask

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is fear-inducing for everyone, but it can affect immunocompromised people, people with underlying health conditions, and seniors more intensely. That’s why, if you’ve recently had a stroke, you’re likely full of questions about how the virus relates to stroke and how to keep yourself safe as it continues to spread nationwide. We’ve got your back! Read on for everything you need to know about COVID-19 and stroke.

Is Coronavirus More Dangerous to People Who Have Had a Stroke?

The biggest question on your mind is probably whether or not you need to worry more about the virus than people who haven’t had a stroke. People who have had strokes likely have additional underlying health conditions, which may increase risk for COVID-19. The most important thing to note, though, is that those who have had a stroke are at higher risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19 than healthy individuals.

Keep in mind: Coronavirus is highly contagious because it’s novel, according to Dr. Dan Pastula, a University of Colorado doctor who’s worked with the West Nile and Zika viruses. Since this is the first time humans have ever been exposed to this particular coronavirus, we’re ill-equipped to fight it off—it takes our body time to recognize the virus as a threat, giving it free reign to multiply and spread to others before our defenses go up.

That’s why, if you’ve suffered a stroke, you need to take as many precautions as possible to avoid contracting the virus. More on that later—first, let’s talk about the serious complications that can result from contracting COVID-19.

How Does COVID-19 Affect Those Who Have Had a Stroke?

Here’s the important thing: People who have had a stroke could be at risk of developing much more serious complications from the illness than otherwise healthy people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those complications include:

  • Heart issues
  • Pneumonia and/or trouble breathing
  • Organ failure
  • Blood clots
  • Kidney injury
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome

And this isn’t an exhaustive list. Since coronavirus is still so new, researchers are still studying its long-term effects on our physiology. Of course, the virus can also prove fatal—the U.S. has had more than 100,000 deaths to date from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

What’s the Link Between COVID-19 and Young People Experiencing Stroke?

You’ve probably heard reports in the news of COVID-19 causing an increased risk of stroke in people who are otherwise healthy and often young. According to Dr. Prabhakaran at the University of Chicago, there’s still not enough data to pinpoint the exact link, but it could be related to three potential concepts:

  • COVID-19 triggers inflammation, which can increase the risk of blood clots and subsequent strokes
  • COVID-19 could change blood vessel lining, resulting in clot formation
  • An association has been shown between COVID-19 and severe clotting, resulting in stroke

To reiterate, COVID-19 is still a relatively new illness—what was once thought to merely affect the respiratory system has now been linked to neurologic issues, such as stroke in young and otherwise healthy COVID-19 patients. For you, that means it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to safety.

Keeping Up With Daily Care

Here’s the first order of business: Make sure you continue to take all your prescribed medication. If you have any worries about your current medication as it relates to your COVID-19 risk, touch base with your medical care provider.

Your medical care provider can also help you come up with a plan for your blood pressure and INR checks. Since people who have had a stroke are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, it’s best to stay home as much as possible—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t receive the medical care you need to take care of yourself after having a stroke. Your doctor might instruct you on how to perform blood pressure or INR checks at home, schedule a telehealth appointment, or send a partner—such as DispatchHealth—to visit with you in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Staying Safe From COVID-19

Finally, to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19, be sure to follow all recommended

CDC guidelines for personal protection to the letter, including:

  • Physical distancing
  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces often
  • Limiting non-essential trips outside of the home

If a family member or friend can make your trips to the grocery store or pharmacy for you, all the better. If you do need to leave the house, however, make sure you wear a mask at all times. If you don’t have one handy, you can use a bandana or scarf or create your own from extra fabric or that old T-shirt in the back of your closet that you never wear anymore.

Get Medical Care Delivered to Your Home


If you’re experiencing effects of a stroke or simply need medical care but don’t want to leave the safety of your home, turn to DispatchHealth. We provide in-home urgent care to allow you to receive the treatment you need while maintaining necessary safety precautions to stay safe from COVID-19. When you request a visit via phone, our website, or our app, we’ll arrive at your doorstep within a couple of hours equipped with most of the equipment you’ll find in an emergency room. And, we’ve taken extensive protocols to ensure the safety of our patients and staff—our medical providers wear masks, gloves, and protective eyewear and clean our gear and vehicles thoroughly in between every patient visit. We’ve got your back during the COVID-19 crisis —get in touch with us today to receive the care you need.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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