Out of the many cocaine facts and myths, a definite truth is the relationship between cocaine and cardiovascular disease. Cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that targets the central nervous system and affects functions like heart rate and blood pressure. The energetic and euphoric feelings that cocaine causes are what hook users. Unfortunately, cocaine and the heart is a nasty duo. There is extensive research on how cocaine affects the arteries and other areas of the heart. The effects of cocaine use on the heart involve a variety of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease, myocardial ischemia, atherosclerosis. These diseases increase a person’s risk of suffering from a heart attack or heart failure as well as death. While the duration of a person’s cocaine addiction can contribute to the type of cardiovascular disease they suffer from, the effects of cocaine are immediate enough to cause a heart attack in the first use.
While the effects of cocaine use on the heart are generally understood, our drug rehab in Pennsylvania wanted to take a closer look at how cocaine affects the arteries.
How Does Cocaine Affect Your Arteries?
Cocaine affects your arteries by causing cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, myocardial ischemia, and atherosclerosis. These diseases primarily target the arteries and can cause a variety of other conditions like heart attack and heart failure.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease refers to the narrowing or blockage of the arteries in the heart. When plaque builds up in the arteries, it blocks blood flow from reaching various areas of the body. There are a variety of coronary artery disease causes, one of them being cocaine abuse. As a stimulant, cocaine inhibits the absorption of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine by neurons. Norepinephrine acts as a stress hormone and messenger of signals between cells. It’s released into the bloodstream as a stress hormone when the body is in distress. It also affects heart rate, how the heart pumps blood, blood pressure, and spikes blood sugar levels to increase energy. When norepinephrine is blocked, nerve activity spikes in response to stress, which makes the heart work harder. As the heart pumps harder, capillaries constrict, and blood clotting occurs in the blood vessels.
Atherosclerosis specifically refers to the blockage of arteries caused by plaque and other substances in the arteries. When plaque or other substances burst, they create blood clots that block or disrupt blood flow. A study on the acute and chronic effects of cocaine on the heart reported that cocaine directly affects blood flow by attacking the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and acute myocardial infarction.
Myocardial infarction, more commonly referred to as a heart attack, is one of the most common side effects of cocaine use. Because cocaine causes the arteries to constrict, proper blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body becomes disrupted. Cocaine also stiffens the arteries, and increases blood pressure and heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder than normal. This can easily cause a heart attack. Because cocaine is so powerful, it immediately causes these side effects, and even first-time users can experience a heart attack.
At Clearbrook Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, we offer a cocaine addiction treatment that is specifically designed to address the side effects of cocaine and help patients achieve sobriety.
Symptoms of Cocaine-Induced Heart Disease
If you or someone you know has a cocaine addiction, there are physical signs that may indicate cardiovascular disease. Some common symptoms of cocaine-induced heart disease include:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pains
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Weakness or fatigue
The damages of cocaine to the veins and arteries are extensive. But despite these obvious dangers, the addictive properties of cocaine make it a difficult drug to quit. At our rehab center in Pennsylvania, we offer a medical detox that is run by medical personnel who are trained to administer medications and care to treat withdrawal symptoms. A detox is usually the first step for most people in rehab.
Cocaine can affect every area of the body, starting with the heart. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse, do not wait until it’s too late. Call us today at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our alcohol and drug treatment programs.