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May 11, 1970

Medical News

JAMA. 1970;212(6):967-982. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170190011003

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Cerebral edema seen in many `sudden death' heroin victims  Sudden deaths among heroin addicts are becoming more and more numerous—and autopsies show cerebral edema in many of the victims, New York physicians say.Although many neurological and physiological complications from heroin addiction have been reported earlier, swelling in the brain has been discovered only recently during autopsies, according to Ralph W. Richter, MD, Michael N. Baden, MD, and John Pearson, MD.Speaking at the American College of Physicians meeting, Dr. Richter, director of the Neurological Service at Harlem Hospital, estimated that approximately 900 people died from heroin-related causes last year, almost three times as many as in 1966.Not long ago, New York newspapers reported 12 deaths among heroin addicts in a single five-day period, raising the 1970 total to more than 200 fatalities by mid-April. This makes heroin addiction "the leading cause of death in New York City