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Amphetamine, Cocaine Use Increase Risk of Stroke in Young Adults

Increasing rates of amphetamine and cocaine use by young adults significantly boost their risk of stroke, with amphetamine abuse associated with the greatest risk// , according to a research.

In the study, available online in the Archives of General Psychiatry, UT Southwestern physicians examined more than 8,300 stroke patients – ranging in age from 18 to 44 – at over 400 Texas hospitals in the years 2000 through 2003.

An analysis of risk factors and trends among stroke victims in this age group pointed to an increase in substance abuse as a major danger, particularly in the abuse of methamphetamines, which are produced in illegal drug labs or illegally imported into the country.

Amphetamines are stimulants, often prescribed for various medical uses as well as used illegally as drugs of choice or as performance enhancers.

Methamphetamines (meth) produce more potent, longer lasting and more harmful effects to the central nervous system than other members of the amphetamine drug class at comparable doses, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

“Using amphetamines or cocaine significantly increases an individual’s risk for a stroke,” said Dr. Arthur Westover, an instructor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author. “If we decrease the number of people who are using these substances, then we likely can decrease the number of strokes in this younger population. The implication is that it’s preventable.”

Dr. Westover is a National Institutes of Health Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Scholar.

The study focused on two kinds of strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic. Most strokes – which involve a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain – are ischemic, caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, result from bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts.

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