Clinical characteristics and outcomes of acute ischemic stroke in patients with COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis of global data
Objective. There is increased concern regarding acute ischemic stroke (AIS) in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aim of this study was to depict the manifestations and outcomes of COVID-19-associated AIS.
Methods. We systematically searched for eligible studies describing AIS in patients with COVID-19 using PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science up to November 29, 2021. We complied with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and used the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale to assess data quality. The data were pooled using fixed- and random-effects models.
Results. Thirty-eight eligible studies involving 76,894 participants were included in this meta-analysis. Compared with AIS patients who did not have COVID-19, patients with COVID-19 were more likely to have anterior circulation stroke (odds ratio [OR]: 2.29, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03 – 5.10; I2: 37%), particularly involving the internal carotid artery (OR: 1.85, 95% CI: 1.19 – 2.88; I2: 0); more severe neurological deficit (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS]) (weighted mean difference [WMD]: 3.21, 95% CI: 2.13 – 4.29; I2: 64%); higher proportion of cryptogenic stroke (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.24 – 2.70; I2: 62%), large vessel occlusion (OR: 1.68, 95% CI: 1.10 – 2.57; I2: 75%), and multi-territory involvement (OR: 2.64, 95% CI: 1.62 – 4.29; I2: 0%); higher C-reactive protein levels (WMD: 55.90, 95% CI: 33.32 – 78.49; I2: 67%), and D-dimer levels (standardized mean difference: 0.81, 95% CI: 0.52 – 1.10; I2: 59%). The proportion of poor outcomes were higher among patients with COVID-19, including increased risk of in-hospital death (OR: 3.70, 95% CI: 2.73 – 5.02; I2: 64%) and lower possibility of favorable discharge (OR: 0.49, 95% CI: 0.39 – 0.61; I2: 0). However, COVID-19 did not increase the risk of hemorrhagic transformation (OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 0.91 – 1.98; I2: 39%) and symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (OR: 1.46, 95% CI: 0.81 – 2.62; I2: 0).
Conclusion. AIS patients with COVID-19 seem to display a pattern of large vessel occlusion and multi-territory infarcts. These patients have high inflammatory marker levels and increased D-dimer levels, which implies that thrombosis and/or thromboembolism might be the underlying mechanism. These patients tend to have worse prognosis regardless of whether they receive reperfusion treatment.
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