How cocaine can eat your BRAIN: frightening scans reveal the damage that a 45-year-old man left in the hospital for two months after class A drug put him in a coma
- The man was taken by his parents to the hospital in Malta as his illness worsened
- He could not follow the basic instructions and then became comatose
- Tests showed that his function was consistent with moderate brain damage
- He managed to fully recover after a year, but scans still show scars
A man who went to the hospital confused and had a fever was diagnosed with brain damage caused by his cocaine habit.
The 45-year-old was brought to A&E by his parents in Malta and he soon became sicker until he fell into a coma.
Scans revealed that he had undergone permanent changes to the white matter in his brain, which consists of nerves that control learning.
Images of MRIs that were regularly made during his recovery show parts of the brain that are bright white, indicating that nerve cells have died in the white matter.
And tests conducted when the man came out of his coma showed that he had a level of brain damage that is consistent with a condition closely related to dementia.
MRI scans released by the doctors of the man in Malta show the progression of his brain damage. The scans were taken clockwise from the top left when it was recorded and then after five days, two weeks, a month, three months and 10 months. The bright white shapes on the scans indicate that parts of the white matter of the brain have died off – the brighter the white parts, the more damage the brain has
The unidentified patient, who went to Mater Dei Hospital in Msida, Malta, was diagnosed with cocaine-induced leukoencephalopathy.
Leukoencephalopathy describes a progressive brain damage that, in this man's case, was caused by taking so much cocaine.
Concerned that the man has an infection in his brain, doctors gave him antibiotics and antiviral drugs, but he continued to feel more unwell.
He remembered beating his head twice in the past two weeks, and his parents said it was only two days since he last took cocaine.
His confusion was so bad that the doctors, led by Dr. Ylenia Abdilla, wrote in their case report: & # 39; The patient was not cooperative, could not perform simple tasks, and did not follow orders. & # 39;
The man's condition then got worse and worse until he ended up in a coma and his muscles became stiff, they said in the British Medical Journal Case Reports.
HOW DOES COCAINE DAMAGE THE BRAIN?
Cocaine was found to have a number of physical effects on the body that could cause temporary or permanent brain damage.
When the drug enters the blood vessels, blood pressure rises, increases the heart rate and is toxic to the cells in the linings of the veins and arteries.
This damage to the blood vessels that carry oxygen has a knock-on effect on the brain because the vital blood supply can be reduced by the damage, causing it to basically starve to nutrients.
Regular cocaine users also appear to use fewer sugars in their brains, suggesting that cells in the organ do not use that much energy due to weakness or have died completely.
Another study found that cocaine increases the speed at which a person's brain ages.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered that while average people naturally become 1.69 ml of gray matter annually as they age, cocaine users in the past or present lose nearly double – 3.08 ml per year.
Source: American addiction centers
Doctors discovered that he had a bacterial infection in a cut above his eye and brought him to intensive care where MRI scans showed that his brain damage was getting worse.
Toxic leukoencephalopathy is a condition where the white matter is injured in the brain and gradually gets worse – it is often fatal.
White matter is made from nerve cells deep in the brain, surrounded by an outer layer of gray matter.
It plays a role in controlling learning, problem solving, walking and balancing and one's mood.
It took a month for the man to be sufficiently conscious to see a researcher walking through the room.
And after he was released from hospital after two months, a test of his thinking skills showed that he had moderate cognitive impairment.
Mild cognitive impairment is a condition known to greatly increase a person's chances of developing dementia, and he was more brain damaged than that.
After a year, however, his mind had returned to normal levels, although scans still showed signs of physical damage to his brain.
Despite this, he was able to live completely independently and had not taken cocaine since the devastating episode.
Dr. team Abdilla added: & # 39; Prognosis [for cocaine-induced leukoencephalopathy] is poor – the condition progresses rapidly and often leads to death.
& # 39; It has rarely been reported that it resulted in a full recovery, as in our case. & # 39;
. [TagsToTranslate] Dailymail