Important Info on Preventing Strokes
The use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine and crack cocaine, can cause stroke. Cocaine may act on other stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and blood vessel disease, to trigger a stroke. It decreases relative blood flow to the brain and heart by up to 30 percent, causes constriction of blood vessels, and inhibits blood vessel relaxation, leading to narrowing of the arteries. Cocaine also affects the heart, causing irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and rapid heart rate that can lead to the formation of blood clots.
Marijuana smoking may also be a risk factor for stroke. Marijuana decreases blood pressure and may interact with other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cigarette smoking, to cause rapidly fluctuating blood pressure levels, damaging blood vessels.
Other drugs, including amphetamines, heroin, and anabolic steroids (and even some common, legal drugs, such as caffeine and L-asparaginase and pseudoephedrine found in over-the-counter decongestants), have been suspected of increasing stroke risk. Many of these drugs are vasoconstrictors, meaning that they cause blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise.