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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Researchers Examine Brain Bleeds, Cocaine Use and Mortality Rates

What is a brain bleed?

Sometimes we hear that a friend or family member suffered a brain bleed. A brain bleed is often referred to as a brain hemorrhage which is basically bleeding in or around the brain. There are many causes for a brain bleed like weak blood vessels that begin to lead, high blood pressure, trauma and drug abuse. Some people that experience a brain bleed also exhibit symptoms of a stroke. You can read more about brain bleeds here.

New research examines the mortality rate of patients with brain bleeds and cocaine use

This past week an article was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association: Impact of Acute Cocaine Use on Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. The researchers were Tiffany R. Chang, MD, Robert G. Kowalski, MBBCh, MS, Filissa Caserta, MSN, ACNP-BC, CNRN, Juan Ricardo Carhuapoma, MD, Rafael J. Tamargo, MD and Neeraj S. Naval, MD, all of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Study parameters

The researchers explored this issue by examining data from:
  • 1,134 patients' data was examined who were admitted with acute aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage from 1991 to 2009. 
  • If any of these were admitted due to trauma, arteriovenous malformation, brain tumors, or arteriovenous fistulas, then they were eliminated from the study.
  • 12.5% or 142 of the cases had recent cocaine use.

Study results

According to Medpage Today:
  • Compared with patients who did not have any cocaine exposure, those with either a positive urine test or a history of cocaine use in the previous 3 days were nearly three times more likely to die before leaving the hospital (26% versus 17%, OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.76 to 4.63), according to Neeraj Naval, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues. 
  • Cocaine users also had a higher risk of aneurysm re-rupture (7.7% versus 2.7%), although that alone did not explain the mortality difference

Going forward...

We have often written about cocaine and cocaine addiction. It is important to remember that this is a small study limited, according to the researchers, "by the lack of standardization in care among the patients because it was delivered by different healthcare professionals over time and by the retrospective review of data, which limited the collection of certain information."  

Like most studies, the researchers asked good questions and started a valid conversation about another danger associated with cocaine use and abuse.

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