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Andrew McElvoy, Neurosurgeon
"The high that people get from drugs is related to a sudden increase in blood pressure"
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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 00:36 GMT 01:36 UK
Illegal drugs 'increase stroke risk'
Cocaine
Cocaine can damage the blood vessels
Taking illegal drugs may increase the risk of having a stroke by causing damage to the blood vessels serving the brain, researchers have found.

A team from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London has studied a number of young stroke patients - average age 31 - who had dabbled with illegal drugs.

They found that in the majority of cases the patients had underlying abnormalities in the blood vessels serving the brain.

It may be that these abnormalities were caused by the illegal drugs - certainly cocaine and amphetamine misuse has been linked to brain haemorrhage.

But it may be that the drugs increase the chance of a haemorrhage by stimulating faster blood flow through the abnormal tissues.

Extremely unusual



These drugs may be leading to abnormalities in the brain that are giving rise to strokes

Dr Andrew McEvoy, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
Lead researcher Dr Andrew McEvoy told BBC News Online: "These drugs may be leading to abnormalities in the brain that are giving rise to strokes.

"It is otherwise extremely unusual for patients of this age to present with brain haemorrhages."

Dr McEvoy said the discovery meant doctors treating stroke patients should try to find out if they had been misusing drugs as an urgent priority.

If they had, then they should refer the patient directly to a neurosurgeon, who could test for abnormality in the blood vessels by carrying out an angiogram.

Treatment to correct the abnormality would reduce the risk of a further stroke.

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