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Drugs Linked to Hemorrhagic Stroke in Women.

Although use of illicit drugs such as cocaine has been clearly linked to hemorrhagic stroke, prescribed or over-the-counter drugs have not been linked to stroke in the past. However, recent reports from Yale University and the University of California at San Francisco suggest that ephedra-type drugs and phenylpropanolamine can contribute to hemorrhagic stroke in women.

Phenylpropanolamine has been used as an appetite suppressant, and ephedra-type drugs are used in nutritional supplements for weight control as well as in many cough and cold formulas. For persons under the age of 50 years who suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, the odds ratio of women suffering a stroke within 3 days of use of phenylpropanolamine was 16.58; less positive but similar results were found for ephedra-type drugs. Men did not have an increased risk of hemorrhage with ephedra-type drugs used for cough and cold reasons and did not report use of appetite suppressants.

A much closer look at these drugs is necessary to prevent serious adverse effects, such as stroke, in susceptible populations. Although a red flag has been raised, it is not sufficient to warrant pulling these drugs off the market. Nonetheless, primary healthcare practitioners may caution their patients against the use of such drugs, particularly when other risk factors are present.


[1.] New Engl J Med 2000.
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Author:Fowler, Sue
Publication:Journal of Neuroscience Nursing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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