Intracerebral hemorrhage in cocaine users

Stroke. 2010 Apr;41(4):680-4. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.573147. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


Background and purpose: Cocaine is a cause of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), but there are no large studies that have characterized the location, pathology, and outcome of patients with cocaine-associated ICH.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients admitted to our stroke service from 2004 to 2007 who had nontraumatic ICH and urine drug screens positive for cocaine and compared them with similar patients who had negative drug screens for cocaine.

Results: We identified 45 patients with cocaine-associated ICH and 105 patients with cocaine-negative ICH. There were no significant differences in age or gender, but there was a significantly higher incidence of black patients in the cocaine-positive group. Cocaine-associated ICH patients had higher admission blood pressures, significantly more subcortical hemorrhages, and higher rates of intraventricular hemorrhage compared to patients with cocaine-negative ICH. Cocaine-positive patients had worse functional outcome, defined as modified Rankin Scale score >3 at the time of discharge (OR, 4.90; 95% CI, 2.19-10.97), and were less likely to be discharged home or to inpatient rehabilitation. Patients with cocaine-associated ICH were nearly 3-times more likely to die during their acute hospitalization when compared to cocaine-negative patients.

Conclusion: Recent cocaine ingestion is associated with hemorrhages that occur more frequently in subcortical locations, have a higher risk of intraventricular hemorrhage, and have a poor prognosis compared to patients with cocaine-negative, spontaneous ICH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine / urine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Racial Groups
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / urine


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Cocaine