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Doctors noticing COVID-19 causing strokes in young patients

While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on its victims' lungs, its effect on our brains has neurologists paying attention.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - There is still so much about COVID-19 we still don’t know.

While it has wreaked havoc on peoples’ lungs, its effect on our brain is what has Dr. David Josephson’s attention.

“There is something about this virus that either makes our blood too thick or causes some sort of inflammatory response that causes stroke in some young people,” said Dr. Josephson, a neurologist with JWM Neurology in Indianapolis.

Dr. Josephson said they are seeing people with COVID-19 having strokes in their 40s, 30s - even 20s.

“Here in Indianapolis, the youngest patient was in his late 20s who had no other risk factors when this happened,” said Dr. Josephson.

His concern is in young people writing off the symptoms or avoiding medical attention because of the coronavirus.

“We can tell you, the risk of not going to the emergency room and having a stroke outweighs any risk of COVID-19,” said Dr. Josephson.

The CDC uses the acronym FAST for people to be aware of the signs of stroke:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.

Dr. Josephson said it is still a small percentage of COVID patients who suffer a stroke, but again there’s so much we don’t know.

“People should be aware of this and until we get through this, we’re not going to know retrospectively how common it is, but as brain doctors, this has really gotten our attention," he said.