Stroke a risk for cocaine, amphetamine users
Young people who abuse cocaine and amphetamines are at heightened risk for suffering a stroke, a study published Monday confirms.
Cocaine, amphetamines, and other stimulants may boost the risk of stroke by raising blood pressure or by triggering spasms in blood vessel walls.
Dr. Arthur N. Westover of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and colleagues analyzed data on strokes and drug dependence or abuse from Texas hospital records for the period 2000 to 2003.
A total of 8,369 strokes occurred during the 4-year period, the investigators report in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
In the year 2003, amphetamine abuse was associated with a five-fold greater risk of “bleeding in the brain” stroke—called hemorrhagic stroke—but not ischemic stroke—the kind caused by a blockage.
Cocaine abuse more than doubled the risk of both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke.
Amphetamine, but not cocaine, abuse was also associated with a higher risk of death after a bleeding stroke, according to the team.
“The public health implications of these findings are heightened by growing news accounts suggesting a recent increase in methamphetamine abuse, particularly in the southwestern, western, and Midwestern states,” write Westover and colleagues.
“This concern,” they add, “was supported by our finding that, among hospitalized patients in Texas in 2000 to 2003, the rate of amphetamine abuse was increasing faster than that of any other drug, including cocaine, and the rate of strokes among amphetamine abusers was increasing faster than the rate of strokes among abusers of any other drug.”
SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, April 2007.
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