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 October 20, 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 October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says he expects revised CDC protocols on Ebola to focus on training, observation and ensuring health care workers are more protected. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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