Intraluminal Carotid Artery Thrombus in COVID-19: Another Danger of Cytokine Storm?

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AJNR. American journal of neuroradiology


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with a severe inflammatory response. Inflammation affects atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability and promotes a thrombogenic environment. We report a series of 6 patients with COVID-19 with acute ischemic stroke due to intraluminal carotid artery thrombus presenting during an 8-day period. Six patients were included (5 men) with a mean age of 65.8 years (range, 55-78 years). COVID-19 was diagnosed by detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 in 5 patients and was presumed due to typical clinical and imaging findings in 1 patient. All patients had vascular risk factors including diabetes (83%), hyperlipidemia (100%), and smoking (17%). Four patients presented with large infarcts with initial NIHSS scores of 24-30. During their hospitalization, all patients had elevated D-dimer and C-reactive protein levels, 5 patients had elevated lactate dehydrogenase and ferritin levels, 3 had elevated interleukin-6 levels, and 2 had elevated troponin levels. Inflammation related to COVID-19 may result in rupture of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques, resulting in thrombosis and acute ischemic stroke.

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ePub ahead of print