Strokes can be life-changing and debilitating for someone who experiences one. Drug use and substance abuse can contribute to a person having a stroke, even for young people who appear healthy without underlying health problems.
What Is a Stroke?
Your brain depends on an uninterrupted supply of oxygenated blood to function efficiently. If for some reason, the blood flow gets blocked, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain, the cells within the brain begin to die within minutes, potentially causing brain damage. The two main types of strokes are:
Ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke that happens when a blood clot blocks blood flowing to your brain. Clot-busting medication can help reduce the effects of an ischemic stroke.
Hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures or leaks, causing your blood pressure to drop. Treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke includes clipping and coiling of the ruptured blood vessel.
Both types of strokes require immediate medical attention to reduce brain damage or prevent death.
How Do Drugs Cause a Stroke?
If you’re wondering do drugs cause strokes, the answer is yes in some instances. Ways that drugs can lead to a stroke include:
Increasing Blood Pressure and Bleeding in the Brain
Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can rapidly increase blood pressure, cause bleeding in the brain, and may result in a hemorrhagic stroke.
Interfering With Blood Clotting
One of the primary functions of the liver is to prevent blood clots. When you abuse alcohol, you may damage your liver and its blood-clotting ability. When a blood clot enters the brain, it can block the blood flow, resulting in a stroke with brain cells dying within minutes.
Septic Bacterial Infection
Those who inject drugs into their system risk the chance of introducing bacteria that can cause septic infection. Septic infection can trigger a stroke.
What Types of Drugs Can Cause a Stroke?
Drugs that can increase your risk of having a stroke include:
Cocaine. This illicit drug causes a rapid rise in blood pressure, which causes bleeding in the brain. In addition, cocaine use can cause a spasming of the blood vessels, which may cause them to erupt.
Amphetamines. As with cocaine, amphetamines increase blood pressure rapidly, which may result in a sudden stroke.
Heroin. Heroin is a suppressant drug that can decrease respiration rates, resulting in reduced oxygen reaching the brain. Many heroin users inject the drug into their veins, which could potentially allow harmful bacteria to enter their bloodstream.
Alcohol. Excessive alcohol use can increase your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. People who drink excessively may have high blood pressure along with impaired blood-clotting abilities that can lead to a stroke.
Drug or substance abuse can have long-term adverse effects on the body, including increasing the risk of having a stroke. If you’re struggling with drug or substance abuse, know that you can get help to overcome your addiction. Seeking help from a professional therapist or counseling service can help you on the road to recovery.
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