As each week passes, more and more information is being uncovered regarding the mysterious novel coronavirus and its fatal effects on the body. The latest finding on this front is its ability to kill patients through strokes.
Interventional neurologist Thomas Oxley witness this capability first hand when he operated on a patient suffering from COVID-19. The patient reported no chronic illness, was taking no medication, and had been in quarantine amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the 44-year-old was rushed to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan after suffering a stroke. Oxley operated on the middle-aged patient, trying to remove the clot that has lodged on the brain.
Strokes hitting atypical groups
As the neurologist was about to pull the blockage with a needle-like device, however, he was stunned to see that new clots were forming around it. Suffice to say that Oxley was stunned by what he saw.
This particular case happened in late March. And while the clot was eventually removed, the patient remains hospitalized to this day, underlining the deadly nature of the virus.
What’s even more concerning is that these strokes are affecting people who are unlikely to suffer from the condition. It’s worth noting, however, that it remains uncertain whether or not these strokes are indeed caused by COVID-19. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiac specialist at Yale-New Haven Hospital Center, speculates that the incidents may be caused by our body’s reaction to the pathogen.
“One of the theories is that once the body is so engaged in a fight against an invader, the body starts consuming the clotting factors, which can result in either blood clots or bleeding,” Krumholz said. Oxley said that they’ve been seeing increase stroke incidence in the past couple of weeks, partially echoing what’s been observed in China where the virus originated.
Major organs under attack
Further complicating the issues are other major organs being attacked, including the heart, liver, kidney, and stomach. And while these interactions may be attributed to cytokine storms – an intense immune response – researchers said these damages are too great to be categorized into a single cause.
Leading experts are continuously baffled by the virus’ biological mechanism mostly because studies surrounding it are still too few. Three U.S. medical centers will be publishing data this week on COVID-19’s connection on the stroke incidents in an attempt to shed more light on this mysterious pathogen.
As for a vaccine, the optimistic view puts the timeline between 12-18 months. However, other experts are saying it would take years before a working vaccine can be created, citing obstacles like manufacturing, distribution, and mutated strains.
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