A study assessing stroke risk factors in young adults conducted by the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine found that snorting cocaine severely increases the risk of strokes. Dr. Yu-Ching Cheng, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, stated that researchers “were surprised at how strong an association there is between cocaine and stroke risk in young adults” (Innes, 2014).
The study compared 1,101 people aged fifteen to forty-nine who had strokes between the years of 1991 and 2008, to 1,154 people of similar ages in the general population. According to the UK Daily Mail, “more than a quarter of people in both groups said they had a history of cocaine use, with men being twice as likely as women to report using the drug” (Innes, 2014).
While the study found that a history of cocaine abuse was not a factor associated with ischemic stroke—a stroke that occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked and oxygen is prevented from getting to the brain—it did discover that heavy use of cocaine in the twenty-four hours before a stroke “was strongly associated with increased risk of stroke” (Innes, 2014). Researchers found that during the twenty-four hours after snorting cocaine people are six to seven times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke.
In addition to strokes, heavy cocaine use has been attributed to higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and thicker heart muscles—all factors than can contribute to heart attacks.
Innes, E. (2014). Snorting cocaine increases the risk of a stroke by 700 percent in the twenty-four hours after use. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2557607/Snorting-cocaine-increases-stroke-risk-700-24-hours-use.html