Thursday, April 12, 2007

Speed Causing Strokes?

During the cocaine boom of the 1980s, addiction researchers learned that cocaine was sometimes capable of setting off serious seizures in users. Now, a related effect has been tentatively identified in two methamphetamine abusers-- strokes caused by microscropic tears in major arteries of the neck.

Although the study, published in the journal Neurology by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, documented only the two cases, both young subjects-- women aged 29 and 36--were free of other risk factors. Stroke neurologists took note. Neurologist Steven Cramer at the University of California, Irvine, quoted at, said: “If I ever see any young person with a stroke--that is, anyone under 65--I’ll be sure now to do a toxicology screen.”

Stimulants like speed and cocaine markedly increase blood pressure while constricting blood vessels. According to Wengui Yu, one of the authors of the study, such work may help doctors “to better diagnose, treat, and prevent stroke in young adults.”


--Choi, Charles Q. “Strokes in Young People Could be Due to Meth.” December 26, 2006.

--McIntosh A., Hungs M., Kostanian V., Yu W. “Carotid artery dissection and middle cerebral artery stroke following methamphetamine use.” Neurology. 2006 Dec 26;67(12):2259-60.

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