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What is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis? Understanding symptoms and risk

johnson & johnson vaccine medical
Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 07:40:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Six American women were reported to have cerebral venous sinus thrombosis after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This prompted federal officials to recommend a temporary pause on Tuesday in distributing doses of the one-shot vaccine until a full investigation is completed.

What is cerebral sinus thrombosis?

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. This prevents blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage.

In short, the condition is an extremely rare form of stroke.

Symptoms of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis may vary. However, responding quickly to the following symptoms makes it more possible to recover. Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of control over movement in part of the body
  • Seizures
  • Coma

RELATED | Indiana pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine at clinics around state

Who is at risk?

Risk factors for adults include:

  • Pregnancy and the first few weeks after delivery
  • Problems with blood clotting; for example, antiphospholipid syndrome, protein C and S deficiency, antithrombin III deficiency, lupus anticoagulant, or factor V Leiden mutation
  • Cancer
  • Collagen vascular diseases like lupus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, and Behcet syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Low blood pressure in the brain (intracranial hypotension)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

RELATED | Johnson County sheriff waits to see what's next after vaccine pause amid positive cases

“For people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine recently, I think they can be rest assured that this seems to be extremely rare. However, if you do develop a headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, any of those things in the three weeks after you got your vaccine, then yes you need to seek health care and talk to your health care provider.” Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Chief Medical Officer at Indiana State Department of Health said. “Right now, plan to keep your appointments. We’re going to do everything we can in our ability to have vaccine available to people who want to come out to IMS and get vaccinated,”