Hemorrhagic brain stroke while smoking DMT - healh and safety issues Options
#1 Posted : 1/10/2015 4:03:00 PM

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Hello all,

I am a new member to this community (this is my first post) but have been exploring the healing and revealing worlds of Aya, DMT and mushrooms for several years. I do not take these explorations lightly and have always combined my practice with meditation and reverence. I have read through many posts here but have never been compelled to post until now.

This post is about a hemorrhagic stroke that my mother suffered while smoking DMT. It is a long post and I hope that as many people as possible will read it in its entirety. I also hope that this post will be moved to the Health and Safety forum to further spread some of potential effects of smoking DMT and increased blood pressure. Lastly, I am submitting this post as a warning to others to take the necessary precautions that any powerful chemical warrants but also as a means to start a conversation about what happened, why it happened and how it happened.

On November 29th 2014 my mother, brother, girlfriend and I sat together to assist my mother in smoking DMT for the first time. She had never smoked it before but had done psychedelics, specifically mushrooms, acid, peyote and mescaline between the ages of 21-31. She was never a heavy user but she had experience. My mother is now 71 years old and her last “trip” was 40 years ago.

I was intending to smoke second and allow her to go first. Before we set up to smoke we spoke about DMT as a very intense experience both in the moment and afterward while processing all that was seen. My mother spoke about wanting to find a way to access deeper parts of her consciousness. I told her that this experience will be unlike any other hallucinogen she has ever tried and it will immediately remove her from this world. She assured me she was ready. We meditated for a few minutes before I turned on the flame. One thing I regret is not fully understanding how the DMT and the intensity of the experience could dramatically raise one’s blood pressure. And furthermore it had never occurred to us that my mother, a very healthy and active older women with normal, would be in physical danger. In all our research we have not been able to find anything similar to what she experienced.

The quality of the DMT was good, I and other friends had sampled it on other occasions without incidence. I knew she wouldn’t be able to smoke more than a couple hits so the dose was low. She took one small hit, then I asked her to take a second. She took a second small hit but it was obvious that she didn’t want a third. I put the pipe down and sat quietly, trying not to disturb her. She was calm at first, for perhaps the first minute, then started to make faces as if she was experiencing a difficult vision. Grimacing and holding her mouth tight. Her reactions became more intense around minute 3 or so. She hugged her arms around her chest as she continued to grimace. It seemed as though she was experiencing difficult visions. Around minute 4 or 5 she dry heaved a few times. At this point I got up and helped her. I held her left hand and told her I was there. She asked me to “help her out of the labyrinth”. I began to talk to her, telling her where she was, who she was, who I was. Telling her it was only a trip and then it will be all over soon. She did not look well but at the same time it seemed as though the DMT was beginning to wear off. As she begin to return to us, around minute 7 or 8 it was obvious that something was wrong. She dropped my hand from hers at some point and begin to speak without opening her eyes:
“I was with my mother, I was abandoned”
“My mother wasn’t there to take care of me”
“I was remembering when I was a baby”
“I was raised by my grandmother, I never had a mommy”
“I need a mommy too, I can’t always take care of everyone”
“I’m always the responsible one”
“The trip started off with beautiful colors but then I remembered I was on a trip, on a drug and I felt like I needed to get back but I couldn’t. I was scared I couldn’t get back”

By this time it had been well over 10 minutes, she wasn’t using the left side of her body, she sat slumped and she was holding her right hand to her right eye. She said, “I feel like there is a devil trying to get out of my head.” I asked her what she meant by that and she said she has a terrible headache and then asked for a damp cloth to hold against her eye.

At this point we brought my father into the room and began to ask her questions, not being sure exactly what had happened to her. It soon became obvious that she had no movement on her left side and also very little feeling on her left side. Her speech was becoming slurred and she couldn’t sit up right. After approximately 15-20 minutes we realized she most likely had a stroke and we had to call 911. The ambulance arrived 20 minutes after our call and she was brought to the hospital.

In the minutes, hours and days that follow we learned that my mother suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on the upper right side of her brain. This is what we know and what we don’t know:

Prior to the stroke she was a very healthy and active woman. She had normal blood pressure, averaging 120/80, she had high normal LDL cholesterol and high HDL cholesterol. She was active and fit, albeit 10-15 pounds heavier than she should be. Also, mentally and spiritually she was extremely stable, had no depression, dementia or Alzheimer’s nor was she taking any medications. She did not smoke but did have about 8-10 drinks per week. She did not have any other heart or health conditions that could have otherwise reacted with the DMT.

The specific type of stroke she had was a Subarachnoid Hemorrhagic stroke with some intracerebral bleeding. This means that a blood vessel, due to a hypertensive event (a sharp and extreme spike in blood pressure) allowed a large amount of blood to seep out, therefore causing a portion of her right upper lobe to be flooded with blood.

Here is the exact text from the doctor after her first CAT scan:

1. Predominantly extra-axial/subarachnoid hemorrhage over the right frontoparietal lobe although a component of parenchymal hemorrhage not excluded. There could be component of subdural blood along the falx and vertex as well.
2. Some effacement of the adjacent sulci with bowing of the falx to the left. Some parenchymal edema in the frontal lobe.
3. No midline shift at the septum lucidum or inferior mass effect.
(NOTE: 24 hours after this initial scan the pressure on her brain from the blood caused her to have significant swelling and midline shift. At this point she needed surgery to remove the blood and relieve the pressure or she would have died)
4. Other scattered areas of subarachnoid hemorrhage over both hemispheres.
5. Correlate for traumatic versus nontraumatic hemorrhage including underlying mass lesion, vascular
malformation or other etiology

After the initial scan, she was flown to a different hospital where they had a neurosurgery unit, she underwent two more CT scans with Angiography (where they inject a dye into her blood to see greater contrast in order to determine where the bleed originated). After her surgery and the removal of the clotted blood around her brain, she had two MRIs. These additional tests showed no new bleeding after the initial event but also showed no vascular abnormalities, tumors, Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy (proteins built up in the vascular walls) or aneurysms. This is all to say that after many tests the neurologists have no definitive answer as to why her blood pressure spiked and, more importantly, why she bled into her brain. Fortunately what this means is that it is highly unlikely that she will have another stroke as long as she doesn’t not have another hypertensive event.

In many ways my mother was very lucky. First of all she is alive. Hemorrhagic strokes have a very high mortality rate, higher than many other types of strokes. Second, she had excellent care when we arrived at the second hospital. We immediately told the doctors exactly what had happened, there is absolutely no reason to lie in these situations, especially when someone’s life depends on how quickly and accurately the doctors can diagnose and treat her. Third, her Craniotomy (the opening of part of her skull to remove the blood and relieve the swelling on her brain) went extremely well. The doctors were able to replace the part of her skull they removed and she suffered no secondary complications. Lastly, she has an enormous amount of support from her family. We were there with her every moment during her recovery in the ICU and then in the hospital. We literally did not leave her bedside except to sleep. Sadly, many other patients in the hospital didn’t seem to have that same level of attention.

Now, a month after the event, my mother is recovering in a rehabilitation facility and thankfully doing well. She continues to be very lucky in that her stoke seems to have only affected her ability to use her motor functions on her left side. Nearly all her cognitive abilities are intact and she remains as sharp as ever. Nonetheless, it will take a lot of time and intense rehabilitation to help her brain slowly reconstruct the damaged pathways between the neurons that were inundated with blood.

Has anyone ever had an experience like this or heard of anyone suffering from a stroke after smoking DMT? My family and I would be eager to hear your thoughts. For those of you who have questions please don’t hesitate to ask. There are a lot of unanswered questions here and a lot still to learn. One major question that my mother has is whether the DMT alone raised her blood pressure to exceptionally high levels or whether it was a combination of the DMT and her anxiety during her trip. She expressed to me afterward (once she had recovered from the surgery) that she had extreme anxiety during the trip and felt as though she could not get out. She also felt nauseous during the trip but it is hard to tell if that is due to the anxiety or from the stroke itself (nausea is a typical symptom of someone having a stroke).

Substances like DMT, which do not have the same rigorous testing and documentation as other chemicals, carry a particularly important responsibility on the part of the user. We tried to be as responsible as possible, we knew of the intense psychological and physiological effects of DMT. Everyone in the room with my mother had previously smoked DMT as well as experienced other psychedelics. We spoke openly about our experiences. The context and setting were peaceful. We meditated. There was love in the room.

Love and peace.


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#2 Posted : 1/10/2015 5:51:29 PM
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Thanks for the post , the info and the very well writen report . I wish your mom , you and you family well . I hope she recovers fully .

Thats sound like the anxiaty caused the blood preasure rise and she either had a blood vesel weakness where the blood came out because of her age or some blood vesel weakness that was there anyway that was specific to her = Nothing that you or anyone could have predicted before = NOONE was to blame . It just happened .

I think that we should ALL take that info seriously and take care when we give people DMT or advise people about the possible dangers of DMT smokeing . It needs to be made clear in advice especialy to new users .

I am autism spectum ........ please dont burn me at the stake for being honest .
corpus callosum
#3 Posted : 1/10/2015 6:08:03 PM

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Hi Jalaxaposse, and welcome to the DMT Nexus.

I'm really sorry to hear whats happened to your mother and I sincerely hope she continues to recover.From the details you've posted I wonder if she actually had an intraparenchymal bleed with subarachnoid extension.Did she have any neck pain or stiffness, or light-sensitivity fairly soon after the onset? These tend to occur more often promptly after a subarachnoid; these features can develop a little later if the bleed was intraparenchymal (ie in the lobe of the brain) with extension into the subarachnoid space.

Was she drowsy?

Does she (or did she) have a visual field defect, or any ongoing left sided sensory disturbances?

Drug misuse and intracranial hemorrhage (both intracerebral and subarachnoid) is a well-recognised association, classically with cocaine because of its sympathomimetic effects and vasoconstricting properties, but any agent with pressor (BP-increasing) effects could lead to rupture of an artery which would be more likely if it had a pre-existing abnormality eg arteriovenous malformation, aneurysm, amyloid etc. The non-diagnostic angiogram is prognostically useful as it failed to identify conditions associated with a risk of further events. She may well have ruptured one of the smaller striate arteries which tends to cause an intraparenchymal bleed as the primary insult; these are not typically imaged on a CTA or MRA (CT/MR angiogram). Has she been assessed for an underlying bleeding disorder, and how is her blood pressure doing?

Once again, I hope she makes a full recovery.
I am paranoid of my brain. It thinks all the time, even when I'm asleep. My thoughts assail me. Murderous lechers they are. Thought is the assassin of thought. Like a man stabbing himself with one hand while the other hand tries to stop the blade. Like an explosion that destroys the detonator. I am paranoid of my brain. It makes me unsettled and ill at ease. Makes me chase my tail, freezes my eyes and shuts me down. Watches me. Eats my head. It destroys me.

#4 Posted : 1/10/2015 7:31:21 PM

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thank you for sharing this story, it is exactly what this community is about, learning and helping each other reduce harm in whatever way we can. I am very sorry to hear about your mom and I am very hopeful that she is able to recover and enjoy her life thoroughly. She sounds like a wonderful woman, all my best to you and your family.

At the center of this existence, it is everything and nothing, all of us and each of us and none of us. My light is now lit, and it cannot be extinguished.
#5 Posted : 1/10/2015 7:45:02 PM

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Thank for you kind words GOD and corpus callosum. She has continued to recover quite well actually and has an indomitable spirit and attitude for her recovery. We have also bee debriefing everything that has happened, talking as a family and using this time to heal both psychically, psychically and spiritually.

Corpus callosum, thank you for the in-depth response and questions. I will endeavor to answer them as best as I can and anything I don't know I will try to find out. The neurologists have been quite helpful in explaining as much as they understand. It is on her permanent medical file that she smoked DMT just prior to the onset of the hypertensive event and then the stroke.

You may be right that it was an intraparenchymal bleed because I do recall the doctors saying that the bleed was in the right upper lobe. Immediately after the stroke she was very drowsy but I don't think she had any neck pain or stiffness. About 36 hours after the initial bleed she had to have surgery to remove the clot since it was causing her brain to swell (approx. I believe 9mm from mid-line) and was starting to put pressure on her brain stem.

After the surgery and once she entered the acute rehab facility (about 10 days after the initial event) she had a very strong left side neglect and spatial deficit. After 25 days in acute rehab she was moved to another facility for sub-acute care. The spatial deficit and left side neglect are almost entire gone and cognitively she is doing extremely well. she has passed all her neuro tests for attention, reading, recognition and other executive functioning tasks. The focus on her recovery is now on re-gaining movement to her left side and continuing to strengthen any lingering cognitive deficits.

In terms of any pre-existing vascular abnormalities (as you mentioned - eg arteriovenous malformation, aneurysm, amyloid etc.) she tested negative for everything after having received the CTA's and MRA's (one set a couple days after surgery and the second round 10 days later when she entered the acute rehab facility). I believe she was assessed for an underlying bleeding disorder but I will ask and confirm.

Her blood pressure and all other vitals have been great once she came out of the ICU. essentially back to pre-stoke levels (120/80 or thereabouts).

Again, thank you for your comments and well wishes.
#6 Posted : 1/10/2015 9:09:12 PM

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My sympathy and best wishes go out to you, your family, and your mother. Thank you for sharing your story with the community, this sort of information is valuable.

It is good that your mother has an obviously intelligent and compassionate son (edit:I'm making a gender assumption, forgive me if off base.) to be with her through this. You're a good person, J.

And welcome to the community, big hugs.
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#7 Posted : 1/11/2015 3:11:43 AM

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Hi everyone,

I'm a good friend of Jalaxaposse's. I pointed him to this forum in the hopes that we could maybe find others out there who've had experiences similar to the one his mother had. I've been reading posts here for years and am very grateful this space has existed for so long and that there are so many well-informed and good natured people who contribute here. I'd never come across a report of hemorrhagic stroke in response to smoked spice.

I'd like to second J's request to have this post moved to "Health and Safety" so that we might attract some more readers who might share their advice/stories and also to make others aware that this is even a possibility. I've spent many years in respectful practice with spice and would have never guessed that smoking it could elicit such an extreme response. I was devastated to hear word of J's mom's stroke and feel strongly connected to this occurrence as I had been encouraging J in his personal work with psychedelics and was very enthusiastic about his mom trying too. Her stroke has made me seriously call into question my own enthusiasm when encouraging others to try. To be clear I've never advocated that these practices were suitable for everyone, but I knew J and his family well enough to know they would approach it with reverence and care.

Also, if anyone out there knows of any other resources/people/forums/websites where J and I could go to continue researching this I would welcome the info.

Heartfelt thanks to those of you reading and responding to this post.

#8 Posted : 1/11/2015 6:41:25 PM

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Hi Jalaxaposse,

I wish your mother and your family the best. Despite the unfortunate adverse outcome, I think that your mothers decision to try DMT was in itself courageous and shows a laudable openness to such mind-altering experiences. It is similarly courageous and open of you to post this report here. Thank you.

I can only hope for the most complete and swift recovery for your mother. I hope that - mutatis mutandis - her being taken into care for her medical situation gives her some of the care she has felt lacking in her early years and that later burdened her throughout her life. From reading your report, it gather that she has raised a caring family, so I really hope that you all can now give to her what she needs, not only in the strictly medical sense.
#9 Posted : 1/13/2015 4:56:58 AM

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@ Pitubo, @ werd

Thank you for the advice and thoughts. She has been taking herbal and vitamin supplements. We are also trying to get her acupuncture 3 days a week. She is a courageous woman and in processing this event I know she will gain a lot of strength. It has been quite the intense journey for me and my family. It still feels so unreal...

@ Habib

My friend! Thank you for posting. You have been a tremendous support through all this. Your love is felt!

#10 Posted : 1/13/2015 9:33:55 AM

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This is an uncanny thread.

I had a similar - but not as grave - situation with my mom, during a psilocybin session.

She was 63 at the time, a little overweight, and 3x cancer survivor. No prior experience with tryptamines.

I used synthetic psilocybin for accuracy of dosage, following the Johns Hopkins "protocol".

She took 24mg dissolved in a little water (first mistake: me and friends prefer solution for rapid come-up; for the unexperienced, the much slower onset of a dry gel-cap is probably preferable). Within about 20 minutes she was quite distressed, and very flushed, so much so that I got my BP cuff. She was 195/100 !? And was complaining about severe lateral pain in her head, I was convinced she was having a stroke myself. With ice-packs, water and breathing, we slowly got back to near-normal readings, and she ended the session euphoric at the "weight" which had been lifted from her, but that was the longest, darkest hour of my life.

Like the OP, I had been in prior consultation with knowledgeable friends; we'd read all the relevant papers, she'd read them too, and was eager and informed.

Despite the great potential offered by these substances, in the absence of extensive clinical trials, I think those of us who explore the possibility of treatment with older friends/relatives (in less than optimum health, with naturally elevated risks of vascular issues) should be prepared to allow a much wider margin of safety than we would typically use for e.g. ourselves. That seventy year old shamans are happily bouncing around on aya is NOT proof that all seventy year olds can happily tolerate typical doses of entheogenic substances.

From my own exp, and in conjunction with the OP's post, I think micro-dosing should generally be the first avenue to consider for the infirm, if only because any incident should be much easier to reverse.

And for the OP, it's my understanding that events like the one experienced by your mom, can be triggered by any number of BP-raising activities, so perhaps it was actually for the best that it occurred when you were best placed to help her?

Good luck and best wishes to you both.

“I sometimes marvel at how far I’ve come - blissful, even, in the knowledge that I am slowly becoming a well-evolved human being - only to have the illusion shattered by an episode of bad behaviour that contradicts the new and reinforces the old. At these junctures of self-reflection, I ask the question: “are all my years of hard work unraveling before my eyes, or am I just having an episode?” For the sake of personal growth and the pursuit of equanimity, I choose the latter and accept that, on this journey of evolution, I may not encounter just one bad day, but a group of many.”
― B.G. Bowers

#11 Posted : 1/15/2015 1:20:55 PM

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This makes me wonder if I didn't dodge a bullet some months ago.

It was my first breakthrough, and one of the first things I noticed after coming back was a sensation on the back of my head, the closest I can describe it is the way muscle feels after exercise. It felt like some sort of "neural overload".

It eventually went away after 3 weeks or so. It wasn't painful or anything, just a distraction. But I had never read about anything like it.

Do keep us updated, please. I am so sorry this happened to you and your loved ones, and can only begin to imagine the distress involved in the situation..

Best of luck with everything.
This is the time to really find out who you are and enjoy every moment you have. Take advantage of it.
#12 Posted : 1/16/2015 5:27:30 AM

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I think any of us should take into consideration ourselves and others who might have hypertension. Make sure to have it controlled before thinking about doing anything that can raise the blood pressure. Or even if not, they call it the silent killer because it usually has no noticeable symptoms.
#13 Posted : 1/17/2015 4:53:23 PM

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Man From Chan Chan wrote:

She took 24mg dissolved in a little water (first mistake: me and friends prefer solution for rapid come-up; for the unexperienced, the much slower onset of a dry gel-cap is probably preferable).

Despite the great potential offered by these substances, in the absence of extensive clinical trials, I think those of us who explore the possibility of treatment with older friends/relatives (in less than optimum health, with naturally elevated risks of vascular issues) should be prepared to allow a much wider margin of safety than we would typically use for e.g. ourselves.

Chan Chan, Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I totally agree with everything you said and am relieved to know that your mom didn't have anything more serious happen. It was also very fortunate that you were there and were able to diagnose and help treat here hypertension... not everyone would be so lucky. The dose you gave your mom was so small it makes me think that anxiety (both in her case and my moms case) was a huge contributor to the spike in BP. This is something that one can't accurately account for when dosing because each individuals reactions are so unique. Obviously there needs to be care and caution taken when administering to older individuals as well as anyone that may have heart, vascular or BP issues.

Man From Chan Chan wrote:

And for the OP, it's my understanding that events like the one experienced by your mom, can be triggered by any number of BP-raising activities, so perhaps it was actually for the best that it occurred when you were best placed to help her?

I've thought a lot about this point. I try not to take on too much blame for this but its hard not to feel guilty. This is something that I will be processing for a while to come. I agree that if she was susceptible to having a spike in BP at some point it certainly was better that we were all there and able to get her help immediately.

Thank you everyone for your support. I am continually impressed by the honesty and love that the Nexus brings. My mom is getting better, day by day.

Peace and love

#14 Posted : 1/18/2015 12:50:57 AM

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Mustelid wrote:
I think any of us should take into consideration ourselves and others who might have hypertension. Make sure to have it controlled before thinking about doing anything that can raise the blood pressure. Or even if not, they call it the silent killer because it usually has no noticeable symptoms.

Probably the worst part of my experiences are with anxiety pre-launch and fears my past abuses will catch up through a cardiovacular event. Taking these into a launch has caused a few very disphoric trips that caused me to step back for a bit and work on these issues of fear. Sounds like she really had some deeply buried events that came to the fore. Thank you for sharing this information and my prayers go out to your mom, you and your family.
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#15 Posted : 1/18/2015 9:08:48 AM

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Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I wish this never happened to your mum. I really hope and wish she will recover fully.

I am sending her and all your family lots of love.
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#16 Posted : 1/21/2015 10:05:27 AM
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Thank you for the taking the time to post this story in detail and highlighting all the points that could have contributed to the incident. I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for you to type these words out. Your feelings of guilt are, of course, natural, but as several other posters have said, this is something that nobody could have accurately predicted would happen, thus you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. You & your mother are very fortunate in the sense that you have a comfortable enough relationship to discuss DMT/entheogeons, and she is very fortunate for having the caring family that she does. Best wishes to you all.

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#17 Posted : 11/25/2016 7:58:57 AM

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I've known someone to blow a blood vessel/ rupture aneurysm immediately after toking changa
very scary
he's totally fine though, could have been much worse
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#18 Posted : 11/27/2016 7:04:12 AM

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..may your mom fully recover (incl. left side), ameen
#19 Posted : 11/5/2018 7:27:43 PM

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This has made me realise how I am not going to share DMT with people so much..

I think I will continue to stick to personal use and maybe make people sign a indemnity form or something... haha

I am so sorry to hear about this story, I cant imagine how you must have felt during this whole thing.

I hope your mother is doing well.

wake 'n breakthrough bebiii
#20 Posted : 11/9/2018 12:43:29 AM

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While I am not aware of this being DMT specific I do know of two people I have met who have had similar strokes smoking different substances and holding their hits.

That is not to say that what happened in those cases is known with any certainty, however to hold the breath causes a large amount of blood to rush into the brain and increase blood pressure dramatically.

Some people are at increased risk for stroke and alcohol is known to significantly increased the risk of stroke.

According to the Brain Foundation after age 45 the risk of stroke before age 85 is 25% in men and 20% in women. That is 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women statistically will have a stroke between the ages of 45 and 85.

It is important that people try to be familiar with what strokes are and what symptoms are and are able to obtain help as rapidly as possible when they are suspected.
It is a tragic aspect of life.
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