SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS DC) – Cocaine use greatly increases the risk of certain types of strokes in young people, according to a new study.
Researchers studied 1,101 people 15 to 49 years old in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area who had strokes between 1991 to 2008. They compared their medical histories to 1,154 people of similar ages from the general population.
More than a quarter of people in both groups said they had a history of cocaine use. Men were twice as likely to report using the drug.
“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,” 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.
“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.”
The researchers found people were six to seven times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke within 24 hours of cocaine use.
An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain becomes blocked, preventing a continuous supply of blood to the brain.
The increased risk was similar for 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.”
The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.
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