The Stroke Foundation is urging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to help reduce the risk of debilitating stroke.
Its managing director Jo Lambert declared Morning report new studies show that more serious Covid-19 infections create a higher risk of stroke.
Stroke is the leading cause of severe disability in adults in this country and the second leading cause of death in New Zealand, after cancer.
“There is a growing body of international clinical research showing that stroke incidents increase if you are infected with Covid. This research comes from the Netherlands, France, America, Sweden and has been published in well-known medical journals such as The Lancet, “says Lambert.
“The statistics are quite alarming… for example, a population-based study conducted in America on 20,000 people showed that of those people, 281 people had a stroke.”
Lambert said there were three main reasons Covid-19 increased the risk of stroke.
“It impacts the cell wall of our blood vessels, which can cause clots to form and cause a stroke, get into the brain and cause a stroke.
“Also the fact that our own immune system is activated when we catch Covid-19, and that in itself can cause some blood to clot.
“And the third thing is that we think Covid triggers its own blood clotting in order to help it survive in the body.”
She said there was currently nothing to suggest an increase in strokes in New Zealand.
“So any myth that there is a risk in having the vaccine and that could then trigger a stroke is just not the case.
“The point is, the more severe cases of Covid you have, the more likely you are to have a stroke and this is increasing dramatically based on this research.”
The vaccine reduced the risk of contracting Covid-19 and therefore the risk of stroke, Lambert said.