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Cocaine and Strokes: What's the Correlation

Cocaine increases ischemic stroke risk in young adults within 24 hours of use, according to the American Stroke Association. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. If stroke does not result in death, it often causes major disability to the sufferer.

Annually, about 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. About 13,000 of those people are only 15 to 44 years old. An estimated 300 of the younger cases of stroke are the result of acute cocaine use.

The real-time, cocaine-related stroke numbers may be considerably higher, but these statistics aren’t known because not every stroke patient has a toxicology panel done upon arrival in the emergency room. Only about one-third of young stroke patients have actually had toxicology screenings done under these conditions. If you have a cocaine dependency, it is time to consider the dangerous ramifications of using this drug and consider entering cocaine rehab.

Ischemic Stroke: What Is It?

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain becomes blocked. This prevents the continuous flow of blood to the brain. When the brain does not receive continuous blood flow, serious damage can occur. The results can be devastating.

The usual and common causes of stroke include:

  • Personal behavior choices like tobacco use, obesity, excessive alcohol intake and physical inactivity
  • Medical conditions like diabetes, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol and high blood pressure or hypertension
  • Environmental influences
  • Family history or genetic factors

A newly recognized risk factor resulting in a stroke is if someone has used cocaine within 24 hours of having a stroke.

Why Taking Cocaine Can Lead to a Stroke

Cocaine use causes one or more of these physiological responses or side effects, which increases the risk of stroke:

  • Constricts blood vessels
  • Increases pulse
  • Raises body temperature
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Decreases oxygen to the brain

People use cocaine to attain euphoria or a high. While the intended goal is most often attained, there is also a significant risk of other side effects and unwanted outcomes from cocaine use.

The chance of suffering a stroke associated with cocaine use is higher than any of the other stroke risk factors. It is important to note that the risk of stroke is six to seven times higher for those who have used cocaine within 24 hours than it is for those who did not use cocaine.



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