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Street drug-use increases sharply among stroke patients

(RxWiki News) The number of stroke patients with a history of street drug use has risen more than nine fold in the past 13 years, according to a new study from the University of Cincinnati.

Smoking and alcohol use have remained steady during the same time period among stroke patients, but research from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Study, begun in 1993 at the UC College of Medicine, indicates use of street drugs (including marijuana and cocaine/crack, among others) rose from 0.5 percent in 1993-1994 to 4.6 percent in 2005. Smoking rates rose from 21 percent to 24 percent and heavy alcohol use decreased from 6 percent to 5 percent during the same time frame.

Study leader Felipe De los Rios, MD, of the UC Department of Neurology and the UC Neuroscience Institute, said the number of stroke patients with a history of street-drug use could not be considered trivial, adding the heaviest use (21 percent) occurred among patients under age 35.

Meanwhile the total number of strokes for patients under age 45 has increased to 7.3 percent in 2005 from 4.5 percent in 1993, according to the same study.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Stimulants like cocaine are thought to induce stroke by constricting blood vessels, thereby increasing blood pressure.

Review Date: 
February 10, 2011