Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Study suggests increased risks for COVID-19 patients who smoke, vape

News Release 22-Jul-2020
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center


Luca Cucullo, Ph.D., and other researchers from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) have for years studied the effects smoking and vaping have on the cerebrovascular and neurological systems. Their research, and that of others, has shown smokers of tobacco and vaping products are more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infection than are non-smokers.


Because COVID-19 and smoking or vaping each increases blood coagulation factors that may eventually affect the cerebral vascular system, Cucullo believes the stroke risk may be higher still for COVID-19 patients who smoke.

"COVID-19 seems to have this ability to increase the risk for blood coagulation, as does smoke," Cucullo added. "This may ultimately translate in higher risk for stroke."

Recent clinical study data also shows some of the damage caused by COVID-19, especially to the respiratory system, is permanent. Cucullo said the same data indicates that patients who recover from COVID-19 still have an elevated risk for stroke and that age and physical activity don't seem to be factors. Some of those with the highest risk factors for long-term problems related to COVID-19 are young adults in their 20s and 30s who were active and considered to be in their physical prime.

"After COVID-19, some of those can barely take few steps without having breathing issues, so the recovery, it's kind of formal recovering, but some of these long-term effects remain," he added.

In addition to impairing the immune and vascular systems and triggering cerebrovascular and neurological dysfunction, smoking and vaping often worsen the outcomes for patients who contract influenza or other respiratory or pulmonary diseases. Because COVID-19 appears to affect many of the same systems within the body, Cucullo said it would seem logical to think the health risks are increased for COVID-19 patients who smoke, but the virus is too new to know for certain.


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