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Use of illegal drugs, especially cocaine, greatly increases the risk of stroke for people younger than 45, Stanford University scientists have found.

A study over 10 years of 214 stroke patients 15 through 44 years old showed a steady increase in the number who had used drugs, said Drs. David A. Kaku and Daniel H. Lowenstein. From 1979 to 1985, 26 percent of the stroke patients were drug users, but the number of drug abusers in this group jumped to 46 percent from 1986 to 1988, they reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Overall, a drug user in this age group has 6.5 times the risk of suffering a stroke as a non-drug user, they said.

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