What Cocaine Use Does to the Circulatory System

risks of heroinThe human circulatory system is linked to the heart and the overall cardiovascular system. The human heart, according to the Mayo Clinic, pumps approximately 5 quarts of blood every minute. The blood carries oxygen to the vital organs and tissues of the body to keep it alive and kicking. Without proper blood flow and a healthy heart, the body is in danger of collapse.

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that can negatively affect the heart and circulatory system, as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Studies conducted at Harvard have found that even minimal use of cocaine constricts blood flow to the brain, for instance. When blood vessels constrict, the result is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, according to the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. It can also raise the body temperature to dangerously high levels.

Increased Risk of Heart Attack

The heart is the main organ of the circulatory system. According to information published by the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, cocaine may be the perfect prescription for having a heart attack. The reasons that cocaine users are more likely to suffer a heart attack have to do with several effects of cocaine on the human body due to the blood vessel constriction found in the studies at Harvard. Another reason for an increase in the chance of having a heart attack is the increased stress placed on the heart as it tries to pump enough blood and oxygen through the body. ABC News reported, after the death of singer Whitney Houston, that those individuals who have a preexisting heart condition are even more susceptible to heart attacks due to cocaine use.

Lifelong Effects

High blood pressure can result from many conditions, or it can be a primary condition of its own. Worse, there aren’t always significant symptoms of high blood pressure, according to Kids Health. High blood pressure affects the kidneys, heart and brain in the form of increased stroke risk. It can even cause a condition known as atherosclerosis, which causes the arteries of the heart to harden to the point they can no longer function properly.

What Is a Stroke?

Every time the human heart beats, it carries oxygen to the parts of the body that need it to survive. One of the destinations for this vital ingredient for life is the brain. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen because the flow of the oxygen-rich blood is blocked, a stroke is the result. Cocaine abuse, because it constricts the blood vessels in the brain, can cause a stroke to occur in an otherwise healthy individual.

The effects of a stroke can be devastating to both the individual who suffers the condition as well as their family members. Sometimes a stroke may result in irreversible brain damage which can make living alone or taking care of oneself almost impossible. Other times, physical disabilities can occur which prevent an individual from speaking, walking or even seeing correctly. There is always a risk of death when a stroke goes untreated as well, as explained by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Vein Damage and Other Risks From IV Drug Abuse

According to the experts at Merck, a pharmaceutical company that provides information for doctors, intravenous drug abuse of cocaine or other drugs can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Injection of fillers or other drugs not-intended for IV use
  • Inflammation caused by foreign bodies in the veins
  • Infections that are transmitted via shared needles, such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis
  • Sclerosis, or hardening, of the smaller veins, causing progression to larger veins in order to inject drugs

Perhaps the most inherently frightening aspect of these risks is the increased risk of contracting the HIV virus which can later progress into acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Because of the programs designed specifically to make intravenous drug users aware of their risks from sharing needles, injection drug users make up a small percentage of the overall new cases of HIV, according to studies conducted in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported by the NIDA. This does not mean that the risk is so low that an individual who is addicted to cocaine shouldn’t be aware of the dangers.

Drug abuse and addiction often result in dangerous behaviors. An individual suffering from addiction is more likely to take part in unprotected sex and to share needles in desperate situations.

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction Today

The only way to make sure that the many risks to one’s overall health due to cocaine addiction and abuse are mitigated is to seek help as quickly as possible. Treatment for cocaine addiction is effective and it can, quite literally, save lives. Call us here at Axis for more information.