Many illegal drugs have severe effects on the cardiovascular system. This may include heart attacks or abnormal heart rates. Cocaine can affect many parts of the body especially the heart. The American Heart Association has reported that over 15,000 American’s die each year from cocaine use. Cocaine affects the heart more than people realize.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is one of the oldest psychoactive drugs known to man. It is derived from coca leaves and has been used in medicine, elixirs, and for recreational use for years. Water-soluble cocaine can be snorted, injected, or smoked.
Like other forms of amphetamine, cocaine affects the central nervous system and can cause serious side effects including:
- Heart attack
- Changes in body temperature
- Rapid heart rate
- Respiratory distress
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure
- Impaired Judgement
Cocaine is an amphetamine which is a class of drug that also includes methamphetamines that is extremely habit-forming. These types of drugs have been used to treat narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, and ADHD. However, cocaine is illegal, and abuse of the drug is growing among older adults.
How Cocaine Works
Cocaine attaches to dopamine receptors in the brain and preventing dopamine from being recycled. When this happens, a significant amount of dopamine trigger’s the brain’s reward centers and pleasure. Cocaine also prevents norepinephrine and serotonin from being reused. Serotonin impacts every part of the body and can reduce depression, anxiety, and maintain bone health.
Cocaine is a stimulant that pumps adrenaline throughout the body. An increase in adrenaline can cause a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and this is one of the ways cocaine affects the heart. These changed can cause chest pain which is common among cocaine users. Studies have shown that chest pain from cocaine use is responsible for over 40% of emergency room visits. Cocaine produces a short-lived high that is immediately followed by edginess, or intense depression making it easily addictive. It can cause excessive weight loss and insomnia when used regularly.
Short-term effects of cocaine include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Erratic behavior
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Contracted blood vessels
How Cocaine Affects the Heart
Cocaine causes adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. It increases the risk of paranoia, hallucinations, tachycardia, and pruritis. Excessive amounts can cause abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, tremors, and dangerously high blood pressures. Cocaine narrows the blood vessels throughout the body including the ones that supply blood to your heart. This is what creates increased blood pressure and heart rate. Narrowed arteries can lead to the death of cells of the heart and heart attacks. Cocaine also stimulates your beta and alpha receptors which force the heart to pump and contract vigorously.
Cocaine can cause heart issues for anyone who abuses the drug. However, according to the American Heart Association, some people may be more susceptible to them including:
- Those who smoke crack cocaine
- First-time users
- Pregnant women
- Older people who have clogged arteries
Those who inject cocaine intravenously run the risk of bacterial infections of the blood vessels and collapsed veins. Even individuals who use cocaine sporadically may have thicker heart muscle walls, higher blood pressure, and stiffer arteries compared to non-users.
The National Institute of Health is reporting that the number of illegal drug users age 40 and older is skyrocketing. The amount has more than tripled in ten years from 800,000 to over 3 million. Visits to hospitals and emergency rooms have increased upwards of 150% since 2004. Heart issues and overdose are the most significant problems Americans face with cocaine abuse.
Research shows that cocaine affects the heart and can cause permanent damage. If you or a loved one need help for cocaine abuse or addiction, contact us today.