Cocaine Health Risk: Heart Attack
Of all the illicit drugs abused in the United States, cocaine sends more users to the emergency room than any other. In 2011, more than half a million Americans were driven to the emergency room due to the effects of cocaine.
In Spain, cocaine was found to be related to 3% of sudden deaths in a 2010 review of deaths in one region of the country. All the Spanish deaths occurred in men aged 21 to 45, and most of the deaths were related to problems with the heart.
It is well known that cocaine creates severe stress on the heart and blood vessels. One study at the University of Texas reported that 43% of cocaine users who were examined suffered from a thickening of part of the heart, a type of damage that is associated with heart failure and heart attack. This condition is referred to as cardiomyopathy.
Less blood can flow through the damaged part of the heart. Ischemia – decreased or entirely blocked blood supply to the heart itself – can occur which can trigger a heart attack.
Even if a heart attack does not occur, cocaine can so interfere with the operation of the heart and brain that it can trigger seizures and an abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia that is also deadly.
Many people abusing cocaine may think that they are using the drug without suffering any ill effects. But they may be accumulating heart damage and vascular with every use without knowing it.