Husband who had stroke after developing Covid while on holiday speaks of his 'terrifying' experience with the illness

A South Shields man who had a stroke after falling ill with Covid-19 has told of his “terrifying” experience as a study is launched into links between the conditions.

The Stroke Association is funding the world’s largest research study to investigate reports Covid-19 may cause life-threatening strokes as it looks to find life-saving treatments.

It will use health data from nearly all UK adults to compare strokes in patients who have tested positive for the virus compared to those without it to establish if Covid-19 increases the risk.

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David Kirton and wife Catherine pictured as he recovered from his illness.David Kirton and wife Catherine pictured as he recovered from his illness.
David Kirton and wife Catherine pictured as he recovered from his illness.
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Researchers will also analyse the risk of stroke with factors such as age, sex and ethnicity to attempt to identify which patients may be at the highest risk.

He was flown to Belgium to get home, but became increasingly unwell and was admitted to hospital, spending two weeks on a ventilator.

He had a stroke shortly after leaving intensive care and spent five more days in the country before flying home with the support of the town’s MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

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Mr Kirton said: “I was lucky to be alive. I remember being in the ambulance on the way home and getting to hospital but everything was a blur.

"I was awake but not aware, and I couldn’t move voluntarily at all.”

Dave was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital and placed on a temporary ward as the stroke ward was being used for Covid-19 patients.

David sad: “We think my stroke was linked with the effect Covid-19 has on the blood.

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“Because it was so early in the pandemic, I don’t think they were prepared for people having strokes.

“They just knew something was wrong and were trying whatever they could think of to find out what the problem was.

“It was absolutely terrifying.”

Dr Rubina Ahmed, the Stroke Association’s research director said the study was crucial but also “just the tip of the iceberg”.

She said: “Stroke already strikes every five minutes and we’re extremely concerned that Covid-19 may lead to more strokes, destroying more lives.

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“Equally concerning are reports that stroke patients who have Covid-19 may be younger, and experience more severe effects of stroke, including death.

“Severe illness due to Covid-19 is a challenge enough but it’s worrying that a deadly stroke might also be on the way.”

The research will use data from the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre, based at Health Data Research UK.

The charity estimates each year 100,000 people in the UK have a stroke, meaning there are more than 1.2 million survivors in the country.

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