Australian researchers found surprising results when they explored the long-term health effects of casual cocaine users in a study that was the first of its kind. In the past, research has focused on the immediate consequences on the body after using cocaine and hardcore addicts were almost always the subjects studied. In the new research coming out of the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney, recreational users taking cocaine a minimum of once a month were studied and at least 48 hours had to have passed since their last high to ensure that all immediate effects of the drug were out of their systems.
Despite these restrictions, the Australian research team still found significant harmful health consequences. Between 30 to 35 percent of participants experienced:
- An increase in aortic hardening
- A rise of 8 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure
- A thickening of the left ventricle of the heart by 18 percent
Researchers Say Cocaine Creates Perfect Environment for Heart Attack
The studied utilized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to look within the bodies of 20 occasional cocaine users who had been given a clean bill of health. The tests showed that the recreational users had increased factors for cardiovascular issues such as stroke and heart attack.
Lead researcher, Gemma Figtree, M.B.B.S., D.Phil., stated, “It’s the perfect heart attack drug.”
Figtree says that a number of effects of cocaine abuse can push an otherwise healthy individual into a sudden unforeseen heart attack because cocaine can:
- Clot the blood
- Increase heart rate
- Constrict blood vessels which drives up the blood pressure
Because cocaine creates thicker blood that must move through a smaller vessel while the heart is pumping faster, it becomes the perfect storm for cardiovascular issues that can have deadly consequences.
Young, Healthy Individuals Die From Casual Cocaine Use
This research began when doctors in Australia noticed a large number of young and apparently fit patients having massive infarctions, and the only known cause for the cardiovascular problems was occasional cocaine use. These young people were not yet living with active cocaine addiction, so it seemed unclear why occasional use could be so damaging. For the most part, the patients who suffered from heart attacks were highly educated professionals with no idea how deadly their occasional party habits could be. Doctors hope that further research will help to explain how use of cocaine even once a month can have such damaging effects on the cardiovascular system.
If cocaine abuse or addiction is a problem for you or someone you care about, learn more about the treatment options available here at Michael’s House today. Call now.