Young Adults Having Strokes: Research Suggests Abusing Alcohol or Drugs as Factor

Young Adults Having Strokes: Research Suggests Abusing Alcohol or Drugs as Factor

New research is connecting premature strokes to alcohol or drug abuse alongside smoking, and drawing new attention to what was once a health problem primarily tied to older generations. In fact, a new demographic related to stroked may focus on the rising risk for people ages 18 to 44, a group not previously tied to stroke risk.

Experts also call for more information about stroke and substance abuse for younger adults, since many may falsely believe a stroke affects only senior citizens.

A recent study looked at how the processes related to heart function, blood flow and the condition of the arteries are impacted when a young adult abuses alcohol or drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines or marijuana, as well as smoking. The results point to linkages between these behaviors and life-threatening strokes long before a stroke would be expected.

Research work from the University of California at San Francisco is also helping determine if specific illicit drugs, like cocaine, can trigger a stroke even earlier.

Hundreds of thousands of adults in the U.S. have strokes, which are the number one factor related to people living with ongoing disabilities. More than 1,200 adults who had strokes were part of one research study, with an analysis of their urine and blood for drug or alcohol use.

Published findings said that 13 percent of these stroke victims had engaged with alcohol or illegal drugs in the past day before their stroke occurred. Researchers believe the actual numbers are likely to be higher because it is difficult to complete a full screening on every patient.

While drug or alcohol abuse may be called a factor in the cause of stroke among young adults, experts also point out that many other elements are likely to be in place as well, such as ongoing health problems and a tendency toward risk-taking behaviors that could also be contributing to rising stroke numbers.

Researchers are encouraging physicians to find out of anyone who has had a stroke may have a history that includes abusing alcohol or drugs, at any age.

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