Stroke Patients Test Positive for Street Drugs

Stroke Patients Test Positive for Street Drugs

Street drugs are associated with many negative consequences. Some are highly publicized, such as difficulty maintaining employment and the disintegration of family and social ties. Drugs are also associated with comorbidity of mental disorders, with psychosis and other types of substance abuse often occurring after drug use has begun.

One lesser-emphasized risk of heavy street drug use is the occurrence of a stroke. Street drugs can wreak havoc on the circulatory system. A recent study from the University of Cincinnati reported on the increase in street drug use among stroke patients over more than a decade.

The study was led by Felipe De los Rios, MD, a fourth-year resident at the UC Department of Neurology and the UC Neuroscience Institute. De los Rios presented the research at the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

The research presented by De los Rios is part of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Study, which examines all hospitalized and autopsied cases of stroke. The team led by De los Rios wanted to examine the trend of increased stroke occurrence in younger age groups and found that the presence of street drugs in the medical examination followed the same trend.

The research team investigated three one-year periods in 1993, 1994 and 2005, noting that while smoking and heavy alcohol use were relatively stable over the course of the analysis, street drug use went up drastically. In the 1993 analysis, the rate of street drug use was 0.5 percent. By 2005, the rate had increased to 4.6 percent.

The researchers gathered information using the patient drug charts or by urine or blood test. The team noted that the heaviest usage for stroke patients was in the patients under the age of 35.

In addition, the researchers noted that in 2010, a research team from UC showed that the proportion for all strokes under the age of 45 had increased to 7.3 percent in 2005. In 1993-94, the rate was at 4.5 percent.

The information provided by the study shows the imminent danger of using street drugs. While many young people lack maturity to understand long-term consequences of their behaviors, the research indicates that the consequences may not require time to surface.

The dangers of using drugs are not limited to lifestyle difficulties, with young people facing difficulty in relationships and employment or academic achievement. In many cases, the use of street drugs will result in life-changing medical consequences.

The study’s findings are important for those who plan education and prevention programs. Cautioning young people about the association between street drugs and stroke may help them make informed choices about illegal substances.

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