NBC News
"It was like he was sedated," Nicole Hutcherson said of her father, who died of COVID-19 one week later. There is growing evidence to suggest that COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, can affect not only the lungs, but the brain, too. A recent study of 214 patients in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started, found more than a third had neurologic manifestations of the disease, including loss of consciousness and stroke. Physicians in the U.S. have noted the same. "We're seeing a significant increase in the number of patients with large strokes," Dr. Johanna Fifi, associate director of the cerebrovascular center at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, said. Many are patients in their 30s and 40s. Over a recent two-week period, Fifi told NBC News she had five COVID-19 patients under age 49, all with strokes resulting from a blockage in one of the major blood vessels leading to the brain. How the virus might lead to a stroke or other neurological impairment remains unclear. Fifi said it's possible that inflammation in the body could damage blood vessels in the brain, or that the viral infection leads to increased clotting.