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Acute Carotid Dissection Causing Acute Ischemic Stroke Due to Cocaine Sniffing
Introduction Mechanism of acute ischemic stroke in young adults due to acute carotid dissection can be due to cocaine sniffing, as it is sympathomimetic for cranial circulation.
Methods A 24-year-old female presented with acute onset of right-sided neck pain and transient left hemiparesis lasting for 15 minutes after sniffing of cocaine. She had another episode of left hemiparesis with dysarthria (with National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] score 7), which did not recover after second sniffing of cocaine. Her urgent magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and computed tomography angiography showed acute ischemic stroke in the right middle cerebral artery territory with acute right proximal carotid dissection with thrombus. She was having high blood pressure during presentation, which was optimized with labetalol, and was started on low-molecular-weight heparin and antiplatelet and statins. She improved gradually and her NIHSS score at discharge was 4.
Discussion Cocaine, due to its sympathomimetic properties, causes sudden vasoconstriction; acute surge in blood pressure shortly after intake of cocaine may increase shear stress in the aortic wall, leading to a disruption of the intimal layer and a dissection with an intramural hematoma that subsequently may rupture into the lumen and cause acute ischemic stroke. In our case clinical history was unique in that episodes of cocaine sniffing caused progressive carotid dissection and subsequent stroke. Treatment needs optimal control of blood pressure and anticoagulation and antiplatelet medication.
Conclusion Cocaine sniffing is one of the rare causes of acute ischemic stroke in young adults, and the mechanism can be acute carotid dissection.
29 November 2020 (online)
© 2020. Medical and Surgical Update Society. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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