Alcohol and stimulant abuse represents a major cause of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease in young adults. Although mild-to-moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to a decreased risk for stroke and CVD, excessive use is associated with an increased risk for intracranial hemorrhage and cardiomyopathy. Cocaine represents the single largest cause of medical complications related to illegal drug use. Cocaine has been associated with cerebral infarction, intracranial hemorrhage, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrhythmias. Abuse of amphetamines is associated with complications similar to those of cocaine. The complications associated with stimulant abuse are thought to be primarily mediated through excess catecholamines, resulting in acute arterial hypertension, vasospasm, thrombosis, and accelerated atherosclerosis. Because many complications of alcohol and stimulant abuse are preventable and reversible, it is important to screen for these in patients with cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease.
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