Can COVID-19 increase your risk of a stroke?

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Posted at 9:07 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 09:07:55-05

(WXYZ) — We're approaching the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, but there's still a lot to learn about the coronavirus.

Even though the omicron variant is typically milder than other strains, like any virus, it can be dangerous even after symptoms fade away.

That's what happened to a Karalin Jones from Rochester. After recovering from a mild case of omicron, she suffered a near-fatal stroke. Now, she has a warning for other people.

Jones said she only had a sore throat, earache and some fatigue. She had no cough, fever, or chills.

Just over a week later, the symptoms were gone and the stay-at-home mom was doing dishes. When her husband went to check on her, it was clear something was wrong.

"I wasn't able to talk, I wasn't able to really even move on my own," Jones said.

Her husband called 911. She was rushed to the hospital and remembers crowds of doctors and nurses. A CT scan discovered a clot in her brain, and she was having a stroke.

Dr. John Whapham, the director of neurointerventional surgery at Ascension Providence Rochester, said her symptoms were consistent with a near-fatal stroke.

He said there is growing literature supporting the idea that COVID-19 can cause the blood to thicken, which then increases the risk of a stroke.

"Getting the COVID infection, people are at increased risk to clot off a vessel either in the heart, in the lungs or in the brain," Whapham said.

It's possible even for a time after COVID-19 symptoms are gone.

Women seem to be at greater risks of clots, even if they are young and healthy.

Hormonal changes Including pregnancy, birth control, hormone replacement or even a history of migraines increase stroke risk in women.

"Karalin's clot affected the left part of the brain responsible for expressive speech and receptive speech. A clot there can have devastating life-long consequences," Whapham said.

Jones was rushed into emergency surgery, where doctors bypassed the heart and went through the large vessels of the head and neck to gain access to the left side of Jones' brain.

The surgery was a success. She survived a major stroke that doctors say often leaves people unable to speak and paralyzed on the right side of their body.

She's grateful to the doctors and nurses who cared for her and the support from friends and family. she has this unexpected setback after following her COVID-19 recovery

Doctors say the reason she had such an amazing outcome was early identification.

Her husband saw the symptoms of the stroke and called 911 right away, starting the process of treating the clot.

It's is important to know the signs of a stroke.

Remember BEFAST

B - Balance problems
E - Eyesight issues
F - Face drooping
A - Arm weakness
S - Speech difficulty
T - Time to call 911

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.