The American Stroke Association recently held its International Stroke Conference in San Diego and their findings on the relationship between cocaine use and stroke was more than definitive. The study presented to the council announced that it had found the risk of stroke increased by more than 700 percent within only 24 hours of drug use in young adults.
The most heightened risk is for Ischemic stroke which is more common after cocaine use than it is because of high blood pressure, smoking or diabetes. This study compared 1,101 young persons, aged 15 to 49, who had undergone a stroke between the years 1991 and 2008. The study also took into count 1,154 persons of a similar age who were taken from the general population. Both groups showed cocaine use in more than 25% of its participants and men were twice as likely to have used cocaine then women.
Ph.D. Yu-Cheng, a researcher at Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center said that cocaine abuse has always been suspected as a risk factor in strokes seen in young adults, but added that he was surprised at “how strong an association there is between cocaine and stroke risk in young adults.”
Researchers found those in their study were seven times more likely to have used cocaine less than 24 hours before their Ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes are characterized by the blockage in bloodflow to the brain when a blood vessel carrying blood gets occluded.
Although the increase of drug use was seen in males, there was no difference in percentages between Caucasians and African-Americans.
Cheng added that this should provide further warning against the use of cocaine for young adults. Not only should they be aware of the possibility of addiction associated with cocaine use, they should also realize that they are significantly elevating their chances of suffering a stroke. He added that, “With few exceptions, we believe every young person should be screened for drug abuse at the time of hospital admission.”
More bad news concerning strokes in the United States shows that only about 4% of those patients who have suffered a stroke wind up receiving a new drug that has been proven capable of “busting” clots in order to prevent serious disability. Researchers are worried that a little less than two decades after this drug, TPA, was approved for use, there has been little to no progress in it being used efficiently.
The main problem is that the medicine only works if given within four and a half hours of the stroke. Although hospitals are working to try to be more efficient in their ability to process stroke patients quickly, few make it to a stroke center in time to receive the drug. Interestingly, nearly 80% of Americans live about an hour’s drive from the nearest stroke center.
The news that cocaine is a dangerous substance is a uniformly pervasive medical fact in our society. Hopefully this new research which shows the chances of a stroke go up by seven times their normal probability will serve as a further deterrent for young adults contemplating drug use.
By Nick Manai