Adrenergic crisis from crack cocaine ingestion:
report of five cases

Merigian KS, Park LJ, Leeper KV, Browning RG, Giometi R
Department of Emergency Medicine,
University of Tennessee,
Memphis 38163.
J Emerg Med 1994 Jul-Aug; 12(4):485-90


We report the historical, clinical, and laboratory findings in 5 patients after crack cocaine ingestion. All patients exhibited adrenergic crisis as a result of their ingestion. Analysis of their history revealed a latency period before signs and symptoms occurred as well as a wide variation in the number of crack cocaine nuggets ingested. Signs of intoxication were hypertension, tachycardia, hyperthermia, agitation, and generalized seizure activity. Treatment included therapeutic sedation with lorazepam and adrenolysis with esmolol infusion. The majority of patients showed electrocardiographic evidence of cardiac ischemia, but not elevations in serum creatinine phosphokinase enzymes--MB fraction. One patient died of complications associated with subclinical status epilepticus. The toxicities of crack cocaine ingestion are seldom appreciated. Prompt reversal of both cardiovascular and neurological signs and symptoms with appropriate pharmacologic agents is indicated.

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