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Street Drug Use Increasing Among Stroke Patients

New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) has found that street drug use among stroke patients has increased nine-fold over the last 13 years. During this period, smoking and alcohol use remained stable. Felipe De los Rios, MD, of the department of neurology and the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati, will present the findings at the International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles.

The research is part of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Study, which began in 1993 at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, which identifies all hospitalized and autopsied cases of stroke across five counties.

De los Rios said that while the incidence of stroke among younger people has increased over time in the region, the increase in street drug use at younger ages could help explain the increase in strokes in this age group.

For the study, the researchers looked at three periods: July 1993 to June 1994, 1999, and 2005. Current smoking and heavy drinking remained relatively the same, but street drug use (including marijuana and cocaine and crack) increased from 0.5 percent in 1993-1994 to 4.6 percent in 1999.

The researchers gathered the street drug use information from patients’ charts or urine and blood tests. Heavy drinking was defined by three or more servings of alcohol per day, and current smoking was defined as within the past three months.

De los Rios said that the heaviest drug usage (21 percent) among stroke patients in 2005 was in those under age 35.

Other studies have shown that the proportion of all strokes in people under age 45 in the region increased from 4.5 percent in 1993-1994 and 5.5. percent in 1999 to 7.3 percent in 2005.

This information could help researchers determine whether drug use in young adults could lead to stroke, and could help develop more efficient treatments for those in drug rehab.

Source: Science Daily, Sharp Rise in Street Drug Usage Among Stroke Patients, Study Shows, February 9, 2011

Posted on February 8th, 2011

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