World’s biggest study into COVID-19 and stroke launched in the UK

A new study launched in February 2021 funded by the UK’s Stroke Association aims to understand whether COVID-19 can increase stroke risk.

The study, which is being led by Dr William Whiteley of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, will use data from the British Heart Foundation to investigate the links between COVID-19 and stroke using information from nearly 65 million people in the UK.

Researchers will compare patients without the virus with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to establish if the virus increases the risk of stroke.

Dr Rubina Ahmed, research director of the Stroke Association, said:

“Stroke already strikes every five minutes, and we’re extremely concerned that COVID-19 may lead to more strokes, destroying more lives.”

Dr William Whiteley said:

“So far, studies of Covid-19 and stroke have been small. More data will improve our understanding of the risks of stroke after Covid-19 infection. With the funding of the Stroke Association and access to the data and research community at the BHF Data Science Centre, we will be able to accurately detect even the smallest increase in risk of stroke across different groups of people. We can then better inform patients and health care professionals about Covid-19 and risk of stroke.”

The research will also hope to learn which Covid-19 patients are most at risk of having a stroke and if this is linked to other known stroke risk factors, like heart disease.

The study is expected to take a year to complete.