Research shows COVID-19 is causing strokes in younger patients, including a Texas correctional officer


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Jonathon Keith Goodman’s last day at work was April 15.

Two days later the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the 11-year veteran correctional officer, who worked at the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo, suffered a stroke at home.

TDCJ Correctional Officer Jonathon Keith Goodman died on April 21, after testing positive for COVID-19 (Courtesy: TDCJ)

Goodman, 52, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He was tested for COVID-19, and according to TDCJ the test came back positive.

On April 21, he died after being removed from life support.

“All of the thoughts and prayers of the entire Texas Department of Criminal Justice go out to the Goodman family,“ said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “The unexpected loss of one who is loved so deeply is a tragic time and the TDCJ family sends its strength and extends its profound sympathy to the Goodman family to get through this difficult time.”

At the time, the TDCJ said there were eight additional employees at the Clements Unit who had tested positive for COVID-19, and four offenders who had tested positive.

Recent scientific research has shown a link between COVID-19 and stroke, notably in patients under the age of 50. Typically, more than 70% of all strokes occur over the age of 65.

In the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of doctors published a report documenting five cases in New York City of large-vessel stroke in patients younger than 50 years old, who were all diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

Other medical teams have identified an increased rate of blood clots in COVID-19 patients, which can cause stroke.

“It’s something that needs to be confirmed across larger populations, but it’s important with these early associations that we get alerted to from what’s going on in New York just because they had such a high number of cases so things that are rare become common when you have a lot of cases,” said Steven Warach, M.D., Ph.D., a neurology professor and international stroke expert with the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.

Although it’s not fully known what causes the increased risk of stroke and clots, Dr. Warach said the studies have shown COVID-19 induces blood clots all over the body which can cause stroke.

“The other thing that’s been clear, it attacks the heart muscle causing something called a cardiomyopathy where the heart chambers become floppy,” said Dr. Warach. “Blood clots can form in there and cause strokes.”

In some cases, COVID-19 positive patients either had mild symptoms of the virus or no symptoms prior to suffering a stroke.

Dr. Warach said it’s concerning that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fewer people are being treated for heart attack and stroke.

“We think what’s happening is people are afraid to go to the hospital, to call 911,” said Dr. Warach. “And one of the messages I hope we can get out is stroke is serious and life-threatening — in fact the death rate from stroke is higher than COVID-19.”

Getting to the hospital fast can mean the difference between life or death due to effective treatments that can save lives and prevent long-term disability.

These are the signs of stroke:

Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speechSudden vision problems in one or both eyesSudden difficulty walking or dizziness, loss of balance or problems with coordinationSevere headache with no known cause

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