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Although the dangers of cocaine addiction are pretty well known, cocaine users may be less aware of the damage cocaine can do to the heart.

Cocaine can cause heart failure the from the first time you use

The chronic use of cocaine can damage the heart and lead to an increased likelihood of heart attack, stroke, or death from other cardio pulmonary conditions

Cocaine is such a risk factor for cardiac incidents that emergency room doctors are urged to ask about recent cocaine use whenever heart attack symptoms present in a non typical patient (Too young, no history of heart disease, no familial history of heart disease etc.)1

What Are the Odds?

Researchers at Institute for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Boston studied interview data from almost 4000 men and women who had suffered a non fatal heart attack. They found that:

People have a 2400% increased chance of having a heart attack within 24 hours of using cocaine and that amongst the study subjects, cocaine users seemed to have heart attacks decades younger than non cocaine users.2

What Does Cocaine Do to the Heart?

Cocaine affects the cardiovascular system in a number of ways. Cocaine’s effects can cause immediate (dangerous) changes in cardiac function and cocaine can also cause lasting damage when used chronically.

Cocaine can cause heart damage in a number of ways, such as:

  • Cocaine causes blood pressure to rise after ingestion – which can lead to stroke or ruptured blood vessels in the brain
  • Cocaine causes a thickening of the blood vessels which results in diminished supply of oxygen to the brain and muscles. Cocaine also causes the heart to beat more quickly, which compounds the stress and can lead to heart attack or stroke3
  • A cocaine overdose can lead to sudden heart failure
  • Cocaine can lead to an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or of the heart lining (Endocarditis)
  • Cocaine can cause fluid to gather in the lungs (Pulmonary edema)
  • Cocaine can lead to clots in blood vessels (thrombosis)
  • The chronic use of cocaine can lead to an enlarged and weakened heart (dilated cardiomyopathy).4
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Page last updated Sep 15, 2015

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