Doctors say the disease caused by the novel coronavirus appears to be causing strokes in young adult patients, some who didn't even know they were infected.
If these early reports bear out, it is possible that this could cause the official known toll of the pandemic to be lower than reality — if patients in their 30s and 40s are dying of stroke, they may not be counted as having died of COVID-19, the thinking goes.
From CNN's Maggie Fox:
Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, and colleagues gave details of five people they treated. All were under the age of 50, and all had either mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection or no symptoms at all.
"The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke," Oxley told CNN.
"Our report shows a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of Covid," he added.
"All tested positive. Two of them delayed calling an ambulance."
Other doctors have also reported that people are reluctant to call 911 or go to emergency rooms because of the pandemic. It is not common for people so young to have strokes, especially strokes in the large vessels in the brain.
"For comparison, our service, over the previous 12 months, has treated on average 0.73 patients every 2 weeks under the age of 50 years with large vessel stroke," the team wrote in a letter to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That's fewer than two people a month.