STUDY: Cocaine May Increase Stroke Risk Within 24 Hours Of Use
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According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014, cocaine greatly increases ischemic stroke risk in young adults within 24 hours of use.
There are two types of strokes: hemorrhagic, which is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, and ischemic, when a blood vessel becomes blocked preventing blood flow to the brain.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs, was initiated to understand what factors contribute to stroke risk in young adults.
“Cocaine use is one of the risk factors we investigated and we were surprised at how strong an association there is between cocaine and stroke risk in young adults. We found the stroke risk associated with acute cocaine use is much higher than some other stroke risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, ” said Yu-Ching Cheng, Ph.D., research scientist at Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
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The study compared 1,101 people 15 to 49 years old in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area who had stokes in 1991-2008, to 1,154 people in the general population from a similar age group. More than 25% of the people in both groups said they had a history of cocaine use, with men being twice as likely as women to report using the drug.
Findings from the study include:
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- Having a history of cocaine use wasn’t associated with ischemic stroke, regardless of a person’s gender or ethnicity; however, reported acute use of cocaine in the 24 hours prior to stroke was strongly associated with increased risk of stroke across different ethnicities.
- Participants were six to seven times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke within 24 hours of cocaine use.
- This elevated stroke risk seemed similar in Caucasians and African-Americans.
“Cocaine is not only addictive, it can also lead to disability or death from stroke,” Cheng said. “With few exceptions, we believe every young stroke patient should be screened for drug abuse at the time of hospital admission.
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