A HEALTHCARE worker says she has “lost her spark” after suffering a stroke which doctors say may have been caused by coronavirus.

Pauline Price, from Seaham, was working on a hospital Covid ward last March when she tested positive for the virus.

After two weeks off she felt compelled to return to work but, rather than make a full recovery, Pauline felt unwell for months which culminated in a stroke in June 2020.

She was left with no feeling on her right side and unable to walk at first and, although she can now move more freely, ten months later she still gets severe headaches, joint pain and unbearable fatigue.

The 55-year-old, who has two children and three granddaughters, said she feels more like an 80-year-old and described the ongoing symptoms as torture.

I might look physically ok but I feel like I’m 80-years-old, the headaches, the fatigue and the joint pain – it’s just torture.

Miss Price said: “I honestly don’t think people understand that stroke is so much about what happens inside the body. I might look physically ok but I feel like I’m 80 years old, the headaches, the fatigue and the joint pain – it’s just torture.

“Recently I went out for the day with my children and grandkids and I had to spend four days in bed after as I was so exhausted.

"I honestly feel like a changed person, I used to be more cheery and I feel now that I’ve lost my spark.”

The Northern Echo:

Doctors said Miss Price’s stroke, caused by a blood clot at the back of her brain, could be linked to the fact she had Covid and since the start of the pandemic there have been widespread reports of adults with the virus also having strokes.

Miss Price decided to share her experiences as the Stroke Association announces it is funding the world’s first study into the long-term impact of Covid-19 on stroke survivors and hopes it can help others.

She said: “Research has to be highlighted more, people need to know that charities like the Stroke Association need money for research. Everyone knows someone that’s affected by stroke.”

The charity is funding the new study, by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, amid concerns that the virus may be causing more severe strokes in patients whom doctors are struggling to treat.

It is thought that the virus could be increasing the chance of blood clots forming in the brain and blocking blood flow.

Researchers will investigate the difference the virus could make to stroke recoveries, which are already at risk due to disruption to stroke services caused by the pandemic and how to avoid the risk of having further strokes.

This much-needed funding means we can continue the urgent work.

Dr Richard Perry, lead researcher at UCLH, said: “The findings from this study will inform decisions about the most effective treatment and the rehabilitation needs of this group of patients, including prevention of recurrent stroke.

“We already know that from the moment a person has a stroke or mini-stroke they are at substantial increased risk of further strokes.

“We’ve come a long way since the start of the pandemic.

“I’m incredibly proud of stroke doctors and researchers throughout the UK who generously gave their time to contribute to the early stages of our study on the impact of Covid-19 on stroke, when we had no resources and were entirely dependent on their goodwill.

“This much-needed funding means we can continue the urgent work.”

Dr Rubina Ahmed, research director at the Stroke Association, said: “Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability in the UK and the second biggest killer in the world.

"It’s extremely concerning that we’re seeing strokes happening in ways we have not seen before.

"This research is absolutely critical in understanding and treating stroke after Covid-19, to help reduce the devastating effects and ultimately improve lives.”

Find out how stroke research helps rebuild lives at stroke.org.uk/rebuildinglives or to donate visit stroke.org.uk/saveresearch