Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Recreational cocaine use linked to conditions that cause heart attack

Date:
November 5, 2012
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Recreational cocaine users may have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls than non-users -- all of which can cause a heart attack. The Australian study is the first to document some of these cardiovascular abnormalities in seemingly healthy cocaine users long after the immediate effects of cocaine have worn off.

People who regularly use cocaine socially have stiffer arteries , higher blood pressure and thicker heart wall muscle than non-users, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

Australian researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the effects of cocaine in 20 otherwise healthy adults who chronically used the illegal substance. Compared with 20 non-users, cocaine users had higher rates of multiple factors associated with higher risks of heart attack and stroke:

  • 30 percent to 35 percent increase in aortic stiffening;
  • 8 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure; and
  • 18 percent greater thickness of the heart's left ventricle wall.

"It's so sad," said Gemma Figtree, M.B.B.S., D.Phil., lead researcher of the study. "We are repeatedly seeing young, otherwise fit individuals suffering massive heart attacks related to cocaine use. Despite being well-educated professionals, they have no knowledge of the health consequences of regularly using cocaine."

"It's the perfect heart attack drug," she said.

The combined effects of greater blood clotting, increased heart stress and more blood vessel constriction put users at high risk of a spontaneous heart attack, said Figtree, an associate professor of medicine at Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney in Australia.

A surge of cocaine-related infarcts at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital led the team to study the incidence of cardiovascular abnormalities in apparently healthy, regular cocaine users.

Researchers recruited recreational cocaine users (17 men, 3 women, average age 37) who reported using cocaine at least once a month for the last year. They completed questionnaires about their drug use, cardiovascular risk factors and socioeconomic status.

At least 48 hours after their last cocaine use, volunteers had their blood pressure taken and then underwent cardiac MRIs to assess heart mass and levels of heart and aortic functioning. Researchers performed direct comparisons with similar aged non-users, taking into account history of diabetes, smoking and other drug use.

In the study, investigators observed higher systolic blood pressure and increased arterial stiffness, in association with heart wall thickening.

"Stiffer vessels are known to be associated with elevated systolic blood pressure. As a result, the heart is required to work harder, and its walls become hypertrophied or thicker," Figtree said.

Researchers didn't find evidence of earlier silent heart attacks among cocaine users, contrary to previous studies.

The study is the first to document persistent hypertension and vascular stiffness in cocaine users, long after the acute effects have worn off. Previous studies have shown the immediate effects of cocaine on the heart, and primarily among cocaine addicts -- not social users.

Although it is currently unclear how repeated social cocaine use causes blood vessels to stiffen, researchers are investigating a signaling pathway that might be activated to cause such a response.

The study outcomes underscore the need for education about the short- and long-term effects of cocaine use to help prevent heart attack and stroke, Figtree said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Recreational cocaine use linked to conditions that cause heart attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140201.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2012, November 5). Recreational cocaine use linked to conditions that cause heart attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140201.htm
American Heart Association. "Recreational cocaine use linked to conditions that cause heart attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140201.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins