People who take cocaine are more than 6 times as likely to suffer a stroke compared to those who never touch it, but the danger is only apparent within 24 hours of taking the drug, researchers have found.
This new evidence showing an association between cocaine use and ischemic stroke (stroke due to lack of blood flow) in young adults, also found that smoking crack cocaine raises the risk substantially, up to eight-fold within 24 hours of use.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analysed data from a 16-year study including more than 1000 cases of ischemic stroke in people aged 15 to 49. Then they matched these stroke cases to 1,152 similar but healthy individuals.
They found a history of cocaine use was similar in both groups, but those who had used cocaine over the previous day had a six-fold increased stroke risk.
Significantly, the authors found a history of ever having used cocaine was not linked to increased stroke risk.
“Of the 26 patients with cocaine use within 24 hours of their stroke, 14 reported use within 6 hours of their event,” they write the journal Stroke.
The researchers note this is an observational study so they are unable to prove causation outright, but they say a strong case can be made that using cocaine does cause stroke, based on the totality of evidence.
“Our data are consistent with a causal association between acute cocaine use and risk of early-onset ischemic stroke.”