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Cocaine use appears to boost stroke risk in young people

Study adds to evidence of the drug’s harmful effects

SAN DIEGO — Just as cocaine use hikes heart attack risk in young and middle-aged adults, using the drug also seems to increase stroke susceptibility — and with quick effect. A study of stroke patients finds that the stroke risk is six times greater within 24 hours of using cocaine than at other times, researchers reported February 12 at a meeting of the American Stroke Association.

The long-term risk factors underlying stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. But these chronic problems typically don’t concern young people, who see stroke as a problem confined to an older demographic, says Philip Gorelick, a vascular neurologist at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

The addition of cocaine changes this formula. “Cocaine in the body is so powerful and so overwhelming that it trumps all those factors,” says Gorelick, who wasn’t involved in the new analysis.

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