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AAN: Stroke Occurs in 2.2 Percent of Patients Admitted to ICU With COVID-19

MONDAY, April 19, 2021 -- For patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), stroke is not a common complication, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held virtually from April 17 to 22.

Jonathon Fanning, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., from the Critical Care Research Group and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues examined the frequency, types, and outcomes of stroke occurring as a complication of COVID-19 requiring ICU admission. Data were included for 2,699 patients with ICU admission from Jan. 1 to Dec. 21, 2020, registered across 370 sites in 52 countries.

The researchers found that 2.2 percent of the patients experienced acute stroke during their ICU stay: 32, 46, and 22 percent with ischemic, hemorrhagic, and unspecified stroke, respectively. The probability of having a stroke in the ICU was small, but there was a gradual increase over time. The cumulative hazard of death was increased in association with hemorrhagic stroke (hazard ratio, 2.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 5.3), but not with ischemic stroke (hazard ratio, 1.0; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 2.4). Seventy-two percent of patients with hemorrhagic stroke died, but stroke was the primary cause of death in only 15 percent, with the leading cause of death being multiorgan failure.

"The severity of the pandemic means the overall absolute number of patients around the world who will suffer a stroke and the ongoing implications of that for years to come, could create a major public health crisis," Fanning said in a statement.

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