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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 632-634

COVID-19 and acute ischemic stroke; An Indian experience

1 Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center; Noble Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India
3 Noble Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission23-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance28-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication21-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rahul Kulkarni
Department of Neurology, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_897_20

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni R, Pujari S, Palasdeokar N, Jagtap S, Jog S, Khan Z A. COVID-19 and acute ischemic stroke; An Indian experience. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2021;24:632-4

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni R, Pujari S, Palasdeokar N, Jagtap S, Jog S, Khan Z A. COVID-19 and acute ischemic stroke; An Indian experience. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 25];24:632-4. Available from:


Since Dec 2019, the entire world is experiencing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease typically manifests with respiratory system involvement. Neurological complications including acute ischemic stroke (AIS) have been increasingly described.[1],[2],[3],[4] We rep stenosis ort our experience of AIS in COVID-19 patients.

We conducted retrospective study in 2 hospitals in Pune, India. Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital has treated >3,500 COVID-19 patients while Noble hospital has treated >1,200 COVID-19 till 20 Jul 2020. Patients with COVID-19 who suffered AIS were included in this study. Their demographic details, history, neurological manifestations, systemic manifestations, laboratory results, imaging findings, treatment and progress were reviewed.

COVID-19 was diagnosed if clinical syndrome was consistent with disease and patient had positive real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) or rapid antigen test on throat swab sample for SARS-CoV-2. AIS is diagnosed as sudden onset neurological deficit consistent with stroke and appropriate computerised tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.

   Results Top

We identified 13 patients suffering from AIS and COVID-19 infection amongst 4,796 admitted patients with COVID-19. The incidence of AIS is 0.27%. Their demographic and baseline characteristic are described in [Table 1].
Table 1: Baseline characteristic of AIS patients

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Three patients were younger than 40 years; 10 were >60 years. Eleven patients had associated medical diseases. Diabetes mellitus (53.8%) was commonest comorbidity. Common COVID-19 symptoms were fever (61.5%), dyspnoea 53.8%) and cough (46.2%). D dimer levels were elevated in 84.6%. CRP was raised in all.

Patients were prescribed various antiplatelet agents and anticoagulant as part of COVID-19 treatment before stroke had occurred. Five patients were taking aspirin, 1 rivaroxaban, 5 heparin and 4 were taking both aspirin and heparin.

Three (23.7%) patients presented with stroke and developed clinical manifestations of COVID-19 2, 3 and 7 days later. Remaining 10 (76.3%) suffered stroke during course of the illness; mean 10.6 days after onset of COVID-19 symptoms. The stroke characteristics are described in [Table 2].
Table 2: Stroke characteristic of AIS patients

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Hemiparesis was commonest (84.6%) clinical manifestation of stroke. Aphasia, neglect, hemianopia, seizure and ataxia were less common manifestations. As per NIHSS criteria, stroke was mild (score <5) in 5, moderate (9-15) in 2, and severe (>16) in 6 patients. On imaging, 4 patients had large infarcts involving middle cerebral artery territory (MCA), 3 had partial infarcts in anterior circulation, 1 thalamic lacunar infarct, 2 posterior circulation infarcts (pontine and posterior cerebral artery (PCA) territory) and 2 had >1 arterial territorial infarct (1 bilateral MCA, 1 MCA and PCA). One patient of right hemiparesis with reduced level of consciousness showed few ischemic lesions on CT scan. His imaging features could not be classified. CT or MRI angiogram were performed in 8 patients; 4 of which were normal, 1 had extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis and 3 had intracranial occlusion (MCA in 2, PCA in 1).

All patients were treated with aspirin, 7 with additional clopidogrel, 9 with heparin while 1 patient was thrombolysed with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). During the available short follow-up period of 2 weeks, 3 patients improved, 1 worsened, 5 did not improve while 4 died.

   Discussion Top

The incidence of AIS with COVID-19 varies between 0.9 and 2.7% with pooled incidence 1.2% in hospitalized patients.[2] In our study, the incidence of stroke was 0.27% which is lower than reported incidence. In the earlier part of pandemic, both hospitals were admitting even mildly symptomatic patients. Such mildly affected patients very rarely develop complications. This led to higher denominator of our ratio of number of strokes to the total COVID admissions, resulting in lower incidence of AIS in our population.

Demographic features, stroke severity, imaging features, and mortality rates of our series match with previous reports.[2],[3],[4]

Since the stroke mechanism in COVID-19 is not exactly known and is multifactorial,[5] best preventive strategy is not known. Many patients in our series were either on antiplatelets (38.5%), or on anticoagulation (46.2%). We could thrombolyse 1 patient with tPA. Logistic issues, comorbidities and delayed recognition of in-hospital strokes were possible factors for less thrombolysis. In the treatment aspirin, either alone (100%), or with clopidogrel (53.8%) or with heparin (62.9%) were used. Heparin has been routinely used in the treatment protocols of COVID-19 in view of high incidence of pulmonary thrombo-embolism which can explain the high percentage of use of heparin in our series.

The important observations of the study are: (1) Incidence of AIS in COVID-19 patients was 0.27%. (2) AIS occurred in older persons with stroke risk factors in >75%. (3) AIS can be an uncommon presenting manifestation of COIVD-19 and in >75% it occurred during the course of illness average 10 days after COVID symptoms. (4) More than 60% strokes were moderate to severe and about 70% were large artery strokes. (5) Elevated levels of d dimer and CRP was a common finding. (6) About a third patients developed strokes in spite of being on aspirin and/or heparin. (7) Mortality rate was 23.1%.

There are many unanswered questions about COVID-19 strokes. Do we need to screen all patients presenting with AIS for COVID-19 in the current pandemic? Whether these strokes are directly caused by COVID-19 and need different treatment approach? Which is the best preventive approach to avoid AIS? Large multicentric studies are needed to answer these questions.

To the best of our knowledge, this is first report of AIS with COVID 19 from India.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Nepal G, Rehrig JH, Shrestha GS, Shing YK, Yadav JK, Ojha R, et al. Neurological manifestations of COVID-19: A systematic review. Critical Care 2020;24:421.  Back to cited text no. 1
Tan YK, Goh C, Leow AST, Tambyah PA, Ang A, Yap ES, et al. COVID-19 and ischemic stroke: A systematic review and meta-summary of the literature. J Thromb Thrombolysis 2020;587-95.  Back to cited text no. 2
Ntaios G, Michel P, Georgiopoulos G, Guo Y, Li W, Xiong J, et al. Characteristics and outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and acute ischemic stroke the global COVID-19 stroke registry (ahead of print). Stroke 2020;51:e254-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Oxley TJ, Mocco J, Majidi S, Kellenr CP, Shoirah H, Singh IP, et al. Large-vessel stroke as a presenting feature of Covid-19 in the young. N Engl J Med 2020;382:e60.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bhatia R, Srivastava MVP. COVID-19 and stroke: Incidental, triggered or causative COVID-19 and Stroke: Incidental, triggered or causative. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2020;23:318-32.  Back to cited text no. 5
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  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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