(HealthDay News)  Acute cocaine use is associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke among young adults, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference, held from February 12–14 in San Diego.

Yu-Ching Cheng, PhD, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the effect of cocaine on young-onset ischemic stroke in 1,101 cases and 1,154 controls. The participants were aged 15–49 years and recruited from 1992–2008.

The researchers found that cocaine use was twice as likely among men as women (36 versus 18%; P<0.0001) and slightly more likely among African-Americans versus Caucasians (30 versus 26%; P=0.01). A history of illicit cocaine use was not linked to ischemic stroke in the overall sample or for any gender or ethnic subgroups. However, in the overall sample, there was a strong correlation between acute use of cocaine in the 24 hours before stroke with an increased risk of ischemic stroke (2.4% of cases versus 0.4% of controls; age-adjusted odds ratio [OR], 7.1), with similar risk for Caucasians and African-Americans. After adjustment for age, ethnicity, and current smoking status, the effect of acute cocaine use seemed stronger in females (OR, 12.8; P=0.01) than males (OR, 2.5; P=0.17), although the gender difference in ORs was not statistically significant.

“We found the stroke risk associated with acute cocaine use is much higher than some other stroke risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking,” Cheng said in a statement.

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