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A New Jersey cardiologist recovered from a COVID-related headache, fever and body aches within five days, but more deadly symptoms lied ahead.
Troy Randle, 49, was cleared for work, caring for his patients at the Virtua Health System, when an intense headache returned.
“It felt like a sharp pain in the back of my head, and then I felt this intense pressure in the front,” Randle told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It felt like a vise.”
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After waiting it out at home for several days, Randle was shocked when medical professionals said he had a stroke. A blood clot had formed in his vertebral artery, cutting off blood supply to the cerebellum, which plays a critical role in motor control.
Randle is otherwise young to have had a stroke, though younger COVID-19 patients with no medical histories are at risk of clotting and undergoing strokes. Blood clots can inflict damage to the brain, and may cause death if not properly removed.
Doctors like vascular neurologist Dr. Shadi Yaghi of NYU Langone have seen a “significant drop in the number of patients coming in for stroke symptoms.” Doctors worry patients are instead staying home to avoid potential infection from hospitals.
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Timely treatment is important in preventing deaths and disability from strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Blood clots resulting from coronavirus are “difficult, stubborn clots,” Pascal Jabbour, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital physician, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said health care providers need to carefully watch young patients with COVID-19 diagnoses but no other illness.
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The New Jersey cardiologist believes he was infected from another doctor while working. Randle was reportedly treated with blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering medication. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer he feels “tremendously blessed” to retain functionality and only experience dizziness as a result.
There are more than 800,000 strokes in the United States each year, according to the CDC. Sudden numbness, confusion, trouble with visibility, walking or severe headache necessitates immediate medical attention for stroke treatment.