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Cocaine Use and Heart Problems

Frequent cocaine use can cause many negative physical effects, including death.

It can affect many parts of the body, including the heart. According to the American Heart Association, cocaine use causes 15,000 deaths every year in the United States. Many more deaths are caused by cocaine’s damage to the heart.

How Cocaine Affects the Heart

Because cocaine acts as a stimulant, it pumps adrenaline through the body, similar to how the body would react in a frightening situation. The adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. According to eMedicineHealth, these changes cause chest pain.

Chest pain is fairly common among cocaine users and accounts for 40 percent of emergency room visits by cocaine users, making it the most common reason behind visits.
There are other common cardiovascular problems that cocaine users often experience. Rapid heart rate and abnormal rhythms are also common.

Uses may also experience disease of the heart muscle, which is called cardiomyopathy. This leads to enlarged heart ventricles. When the walls of the aorta weaken, they can dissect or rupture. Even sporadic use of cocaine can cause arteries to narrow and blood flow to decrease, which can lead to chest pain, also known as angina. This can be the onset of a heart attack. According to eMedicineHealth, these types of cardiovascular problems have been commonly found in cocaine users between 19 and 44 years of age.

The stimulation of the heart caused by cocaine use can also lead to abnormal heart rhythms, which are known as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. More than 20 percent of emergency room visits by cocaine users are for heart arrhythmias or palpitations.

According to the American Heart Association, cocaine can cause other negative effects on the heart, including myocarditis, which is an inflamed heart muscle.  The inner lining of the heart can also become inflamed and cause endocarditis. A cocaine user can also develop pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. Blood vessels in the heart can develop blood clots and result in vascular thrombosis.

Cocaine Use Increasing

Cocaine use is expected to gain popularity. Not only can it be obtained fairly easily in some areas, but it can be administered various ways. It does not need to be injected, so those who are scared of needles can snort or smoke the drug to achieve a high. Crack cocaine is even more potent, less expensive and more widely available, making it a viable alternative to powder cocaine. However, its potency makes heart problems even more common. Young people and those who are otherwise healthy could suffer from heart attacks and strokes from frequent use of crack cocaine. Even first-time users are at risk.

Risk Factors for Heart Problems

Cocaine can cause heart problems for anyone who uses the drug. However, certain types of people are more susceptible to them. According to the American Heart Association, they include the following:

  • First-time users
  • Older users with coronary arteries that are clogged or abnormal
  • Pregnant women
  • Those who smoke crack cocaine

Get Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use can be deadly. In fact, thousands of cocaine users die every year. Don’t become a statistic. Help is just a phone call away. We can help you find the right treatment facility for your needs. There are many options to choose from.

Don’t wait any longer.