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Public Health Warning Over Rare Condition Associated with Cocaine

November 26, 2010 12:22 PM

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Public Health experts in Glasgow have issued an alert to health professionals throughout the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area to be on the look out after a cocaine user was found to have a rare, serious condition associated with the use of cocaine.

A patient has been treated in a Glasgow hospital for Methaemoglobinaemia, which is a serious condition affecting the carriage of oxygen in the blood.

Dr Eleanor Anderson, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s, Consultant in Public Health, said: “Methaemoglobinaemia occurs when an increased quantity of the iron of haemogloblin is oxidised to the ferric form. Essentially it means an abnormality with the carriage of oxygen in the blood. The investigations into the cause of Methaemoglobinaemia in this case are ongoing, however other chemicals often added to increase the volume of cocaine are known to be able to induce the condition.”

The symptoms of Methaemoglobinaemia include, Cyanosis (blue lips), headache, abnormal heart rates, breathlessness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, dizziness, loss of consciousness, seizures and in severe cases coma and death.

Dr Eleanor Anderson urged: “If any cocaine users display any of these symptoms they should present to their nearest A&E, GP or Health Centre for prompt assessment and treatment for what is potentially a very serious condition.”


For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected].

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021