According to scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the risk for having a stroke increases by up 700 percent within 24 hours of cocaine use. In one study, researchers compared two groups of adults living in the Baltimore-Washington area, some of whom suffered a stroke between the years 1991 and 2008, about 1,101 people. The other controlled group consisted of 1,154 people of a similar age with no history of stroke.
Twenty five percent of young men and women in both groups had reported using cocaine at one time. What the researchers found was that having a history of cocaine use was not linked to ischemic stroke. However, one’s stroke risk increases up to seven times greater within twenty four hours of using cocaine.
An Ischemic stroke will occur when a blockage forms in a blood vessel which leads to the brain. Diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure are known to be high risk factors for stroke. This new research, which was presented today suggests that using cocaine puts one at an even higher risk.
Research scientist, Yu-Ching Cheng from the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center says that with a few exceptions, most young people should be assessed by doctors immediately when being admitted to the hospital to check for signs of drug abuse. Only one-third of people involved in her team’s study mentioned receiving toxicology screenings. “The percentage of cocaine use could be higher than we’ve reported.” Says Cheng.
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. Some of the short-term physiological effects that occur from cocaine use include dilated pupils, increased body temperature, heart rate changes, and blood high pressure according to NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse). Furthermore, the drug “significantly increases the risk of disability and death from stroke” says Cheng. Right now, it is still unknown what percentage of all cocaine users will suffer from a stroke within twenty four hours of using.
Cheng’s findings show no difference between ethnicities. One day, it will be clear to what extent personal behaviors, environmental, medical or genetic factors may play a part.
Albert Reece, vice president of medical affairs at the University of Maryland says “Ischemic stroke in young adults can limit their productive years and decrease quality of life.” Neurologists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine continue to evaluate which methods work best for preventing strokes in all age groups. Some researchers from the University of Valencia, Spain found the “reinforcing effect” of cocaine addiction to be stronger in teenagers, making them especially vulnerable.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported that cocaine use has been on the rise within the United States since the early 1990’s. As well, emergency room visits involving cocaine have increased by thirty three percent. NIDA has stated on their website that they are in the process of testing new medications to treat addiction to cocaine. There are no such proven medications on the market as of yet. The Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends calling 911 as soon as a stroke occurs because the risks of treatment being ineffective will increase after the first few hours.
By Katie Sevigny