Cocaine Health Risks: Cardiac Arrest
The use of cocaine can have serious effects on the user’s heart, all the way up to and including cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, this news is seldom broadcast to cocaine abusers so they know what they are getting into when they use the drug. For some people, cocaine is quickly addictive so they lose the power of choice even if they do know the potential harm that can result.
Because of severe stresses placed on the heart and arteries, heart symptoms can show up even on the first use of the drug, or as a result of infrequent use. Of course, chronic or heavy users stress their cardiovascular systems much more severely.
Sudden Deaths in Spain
A study published in 2010 showed that slightly more than three percent of all sudden deaths reviewed were associated with cocaine abuse. The main author of the study stated, “Our findings show that cocaine use causes adverse changes to the heart and arteries that then lead to sudden death.”
The study also noted that when a cocaine user also smokes or drinks alcohol, the risks of damage or death is even greater. The study author stated: “The combination of cocaine with either or both of these habits can be considered as a lethal cocktail that promotes the development of premature heart disease.” The study also noted that the involvement of cocaine in sudden deaths around the world may be underestimated as doctors may not look for this contributing factor.
Heart Attacks, Rapid Heartbeat and Failure
The arrest of the heart while a person is using cocaine can come from a number of causes. A cocaine-induced heart attack can be severe enough to kill; a heart can be driven into a frantic fast rate of beating that won’t stop until death occurs; and a thickened, less flexible heart (cardiomyopathy) can begin to beat irregularly or simply go into arrest.
The most important thing a cocaine user should realize is the strain he is placing on his own body and the risk of sudden death. The risk exists for any cocaine user, with any amount of the drug, at any time, because there is no way of knowing who will develop serious symptoms and who will survive.