British teenager believed to have died after inhaling laughing gas at party

Laughing gas is also known as 'hippy crack'
Laughing gas is also known as 'hippy crack'

A British teenager is believed to have died after inhaling laughing gas at a party.

The 18-year-old was rushed to hospital from the party in London on Saturday night but died two hours later.

He was in cardiac arrest when ambulance officers arrived.

"At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained pending the findings of the post-mortem," police said.

Research published earlier this year showed there had been a rise in the recreational use of nitrous oxide, known by various names including "hippie crack".

It's not illegal to be in possession of the substance although it is prohibited from being sold in England and Wales to under-18s if there is a risk they will inhale it.

The gas can make people feel relaxed, euphoric and giggly, leading to the nickname laughing gas. It is usually inhaled through balloons.

Abusing nitrous oxide can lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in loss of blood pressure, fainting and even heart attacks.

The research by respiratory consultant and neonatal paediatrician Dr Paul Seddon found that 7.6 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds in England and Wales have admitted to having tried balloons, which were described as "widely available" in shops that sell legal highs.

Seventeen people in the UK died between 2006 and 2012 after taking the legal high.