Street Drugs and Stroke

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Crack, cocaine, marijuana “¦ we all know that illegal drugs are bad for your health, but a new study suggests they could also increase your risks of having a stroke.

A new study from the University of Cincinnati found that illegal drug use among stroke patients rose more than nine-fold, over a 13 year period.
Researchers say this increase in recreational drug use could explain why they’re starting to see more strokes in younger patients.

“We know that stroke incidence in younger age groups has increased over time in our region,” says De los Rios, referring to UC research presented at last year’s International Stroke Conference. “With street drug use more prevalent at younger ages, this could help explain that phenomenon.”

During the 13-year study researchers found current smoking and heavy alcohol use remained relatively stable, while street drug use including marijuana and cocaine/crack rose about four percent.

Illegal drug use information came from patients’ charts or positive urine and blood tests. Current smoking was defined as present within the past three months; heavy alcohol use constituted three or more servings per day.

Some drugs can cause stroke by affecting blood vessels in the brain, or by affecting other organs in the body such as the heart or the liver. A study published in the Western Journal of Medicine found a clear connection between cocaine use and stroke. Cocaine causes a narrowing of the blood vessels. This can cut off blood flow to parts of the brain, kill brain tissue, and produce an ischemic stroke. Street drugs overall increase blood pressure and high high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, February 14, 2011

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