CCU084: Impact of COVID-19 on stroke incidence, severity, aetiology, management and outcome in younger vs. older individuals in England

Project lead:
Linxin Li, University of Oxford

Each year, the number of new strokes diagnosed in older people has been decreasing. However, even before COVID-19 hit, the number of strokes in people under 55 was doubling. Researchers found that both getting COVID-19 and certain types of vaccines are linked to a higher risk of stroke, especially in younger people. And this increased risk can last for at least a year. These findings suggest that the trend of more strokes in younger people might be getting worse.

This project aims to test this idea and gather new information to help prevent strokes in younger people in the time after COVID-19.

There are three main aims:

  1. We want to understand how many new strokes happen each year before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, looking at factors like age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status,  and where they live. By doing this, we can work out which groups are most affected by strokes and make sure we focus our efforts and resources where they are needed most.
  2. We want to work out why the trend of more strokes in younger people might be worsening. We will look into whether there were problems with the diagnosis and management stroke risk factors during and after the pandemic. This will help us to focus our efforts on preventing strokes in younger people.
  3. We will look at whether there were more or fewer treatments for strokes in young people during and after the COVID pandemic. This will help us see if a particular important guideline, which came out just before COVID-19, is being followed.

The findings from this research could provide new and widely applicable information about how strokes are affecting younger people before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This will guide the NHS and policymakers in deciding where to focus resources.