New research indicates that COVID-19 infection leads to a higher risk of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), a form of rare blood clotting, than currently available COVID-19 vaccines. The risk, too, has been found to be several times higher.
The risk of the brain clot after COVID-19 infection is about 100 times higher than normal, which is several times higher than it is after vaccination or influenza, according to the team out of University of Oxford.
Study Findings: CVT Post-COVID and Post-Vaccine
The researchers counted the number of CVT cases diagnosed within two weeks after COVID-19 diagnosis, or after receiving the first dose of a vaccine. Afterwards, they compared the results to calculated cases of CVT post-influenza, along with the background level in the general population.
In this study of over 500,000 COVID-19 patients, CVT was found more commonly occurring after COVID than in any of the other groups. Thirty percent of the cases also occurred in people under 30s. This translated to eight to 10 times higher risk compared to current COVID-19 vaccines, and around 100 times higher than baseline.
CVT took place in four in a million in those receiving a Pfizer or Moderna jab (mRNA vaccine) and five in a million after the first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Compared to the former, CVT risk from COVID-19 was about 10 times higher, while compared to the latter, the risk from COVID-19 was around eight times higher.
‘We’ve reached two important conclusions. Firstly, COVID-19 markedly increases the risk of CVT, adding to the list of blood clotting problems this infection causes,” said Paul Harrison, Oxford psychiatry professor and Translational Neurobiology Group head.
“Secondly, the COVID-19 risk is higher than we see with the current vaccines, even for those under 30; something that should be taken into account when considering the balances between risks and benefits for vaccination.”
A Closer Look at CVT
A rare form of stroke, CVT takes place when a blood clot forms in the venous sinuses of the brain. This hinders blood from draining out of the organ, leading to blood cells potentially breaking and leaking blood into the brain tissues and forming a hemorrhage.
This entire chain of events is part of a stroke that can happen in both adults and children, even in newborns and babies still in the womb. A stroke can be damaging to the brain and the central nervous system, thus it requires urgent medical attention.
- The risk factor for CVT among adults include the following:
- Pregnancy, along with the first few weeks post-delivery
- Blood clotting problems
- Collagen vascular conditions such as lupus
- Low blood pressure in the brain, and
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease
The physical signs and symptoms of CVT can include headaches, blurred vision, fainting, loss of consciousness, seizures, loss of control over movement in body parts, and coma, to name a few. These should be identified and addressed right away, as complications can ensue and include impaired speech, vision and movement problems, increased fluid pressure in the skull, brain injury, nerve pressure, developmental issues, and even death.
CVT, however, can be prevented. Strokes as well as this form of blood clotting can be avoided through a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle. COnsume a low-fat diet that includes lots of vegetables and fruits. Keep moving with moderate to high intensity exercises if you can; otherwise, walk or run for 30 minutes at least three times a week. Avoid smoking and manage chronic health conditions you may have, including diabetes.
Brain Health Matters
In the time of pandemics like COVID-19, your brain remains a very crucial part of overall wellness. Try these tips and advice for brain health while social distancing:
- Create a daily schedule, as the brain is used to looking for patterns and structure when other parts of life remain uncertain.
- Do mindfulness meditation to calm your busy mind.
- Stay physically active, as activity in the body is largely related to better activity in the brain. You may opt for stretching or yoga at home.
- Discover a new hobby to inspire or make you curious or engaged.
- Enhance your cognitive ability or learning through reading, writing, and things that can improve your brain aging.
- Manage your stress, including limiting your exposure to COVID 19-related news as well as mobile phone use.
- Optimize your sleep, as it restores your brain and keeps it healthy for the following day.
- Eat a healthy diet, including whole grains, fresh produce, and antioxidant-rich foods. A good diet has been associated with a lower risk for dementia.
- Supplement with a high-quality organic brain enhancement capsule, also known as nootropics, for synergistic effects with other brain-friendly steps on this list.