The presence of COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of thrombotic events including ischemic strokes. Whilst a number of recent reports suggest that COVID-19 associated stroke tends to be severe, there is limited data on the effects of COVID-19 in prospective registries.
To determine how COVID-19 infection may affect cerebrovascular disease, we evaluated the ischemic stroke sub-types, clinical course and outcomes prior to and during the pandemic in Qatar. The Hamad General Hospital (HGH) stroke database was interrogated for stroke admissions during the last 4 months of 2019 and January-May 2020.
In Qatar the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased from only 2 in February to 779 in March, 12,628 in April and 45,501 in May. Stroke admissions to HGH declined marginally from an average of 97/month for six pre-COVID months to 72/month in March-May. There were 32 strokes that were positive for COVID-19. When compared to non-COVID-19 stroke during the three months of the pandemic, COVID-19 patients were younger with significantly lower rates of hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia. COVID-19 positive patients had more cortical strokes (34.4% vs 5.6%; p = 0.001), severe disease (NIHSS >10: 34.4% vs 16.7%; p = 0.001) prolonged hospitalization and fewer with good recovery (mRS 0-2: 28.1% vs 51.9%; p = 0.001).
When compared to six pre-COVID-19 months, the number of ischemic stroke admissions during the three months of the pandemic declined marginally. COVID-19 positive patients were more likely to have a large cortical stroke with severe symptoms and poor outcome.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.