New research adds to the growing body of evidence that young people who smoke and vape have an increased chance of becoming seriously ill from the Covid-19 virus.
Based on the findings and the recent Covid-19 patient case studies, the research team reviewed the role of smoking and vaping that may play in the cerebrovascular and neurological dysfunction of those who contract the virus.
The study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, “Our study has shown smokers of tobacco and vaping products are more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infection than are non-smokers,” said study researcher Luca Cucullo from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in the US.
In his previous research, Cucullo demonstrated how tobacco smoke can impair a person’s respiratory function. From there, it can affect the vascular system and eventually the brain. Because Covid-19 also attacks the respiratory and vascular systems, the research team wanted to see if there were any reported cases indicating the virus may also affect the brain and lead to the onset of long-term neurological disorders like ischemic strokes. They also looked for evidence showing smoking and vaping can otherwise worsen the outcomes for COVID-19 patients, which Cucullo said seems to be the case.
According to the findings, published in the ‘International Journal of Molecular Sciences’, some case studies demonstrate there are indeed stroke occurrences in Covid-19 patients and the rates appear to be increasing every day.
In fact, one study comprised of 214 patients found that 36.45 per cent of Covid-19 patients had neurological symptoms, further indicating the virus is able to affect the cerebral vascular system.
“But how does this happen?” the researchers said.
There are within the human body approximately 13 blood coagulation factors that can be increased due to hypoxia, a condition that occurs when the body is deprived of sufficient amounts of oxygen at the tissue level, as occurs with smoking.
The researchers said that Covid-19 appears to also raise some blood procoagulant, especially the von Wellebrand Factor, a blood-clotting protein that primarily binds carries coagulation factor VIII and promotes platelet adhesion at the site of wounds.
“When the coagulant factor will be increased in our body, there will be a higher chance of clot formation. Ultimately, it will be responsible for several vascular dysfunctions, for example, hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke,” the study authors wrote.
Because Covid-19 and smoking or vaping each increases blood coagulation factors that may eventually affect the cerebral vascular system, the research team believes the stroke risk may be higher still for Covid-19 patients who smoke.