You started experimenting with cocaine because you wanted a sense of euphoria and energy you’ve never experienced before. But what started as an incredible, mind-blowing experiment that left you feeling amazing is now a full-blown addiction that has you chasing after that original high every hour of every day.
And when you indulge those cravings, your energy is through the roof. You’re more alert than you’ve ever been, you’re talkative and excited, and you can’t seem to calm yourself down. This level of excitement and anxiety puts a great deal of strain on your cardiovascular system.
This post will examine what cocaine does to your heart and entire cardiovascular system, plus the heart problems you are at risk of struggling with because of cocaine addiction.
What Cocaine Does to the Cardiovascular System
Before you can understand how cocaine affects the heart, we first need to touch on the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates your body’s unconscious actions.
The sympathetic nervous system, in particular, is responsible for your fight-or-flight response that primarily acts on your cardiovascular system. And in order to prime your body for action, your sympathetic nervous system relies on the hormone and neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.
When you get high, cocaine disrupts this intricate system by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and prolonging the sympathetic nervous system’s flight-or-fight activity. This raises your heart rate and increases your blood pressure. Then, cocaine also constricts the capillaries and limits the amount of blood flow and oxygen that can actually get to your heart to help it function without injuring itself.
Ultimately, cocaine puts a significant amount of stress on your heart and makes it work harder than it should without enough blood and oxygen to maintain the pace its going. As a result of this, constant cocaine abuse leads to a number of serious heart conditions.
5 Heart Problems Caused by Cocaine Abuse
- Heart Attacks. Fifty-seven percent of people who enter the emergency room after using cocaine are doing so because of chest pains associated with heart attacks. Heart attacks are extremely prevalent in those who abuse cocaine and can even occur within an hour of use.
- Strokes. As mentioned above, cocaine use increases blood pressure and has a significant effect on capillaries and blood vessels. Cocaine can also lead to cerebral hemorrhage and the rupturing of pre-existing cerebral aneurysms. Because of the amount and severity of damage done, those struggling with cocaine are also at higher risk of suffering from strokes.
- Cardiomyopathy. This is damage to the heart muscle that occurs because of inflammation to the heart muscle triggered by cocaine abuse. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure and death.
- Aortic Dissection. Heavy cocaine use causes increased arterial pressure within the cardiovascular system. This increased pressure wears down the wall of the aorta, which can lead to significant tearing that can be life-threatening
- Atherosclerosis. This term refers to the hardening of the arteries and capillaries, which can be caused by heavy cocaine use. This condition can be reversed if treated properly, but it can also lead to long-term heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.
How to Treat Heart Problems Caused by Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine use makes treating heart conditions like heart attacks, strokes and aortic dissection more difficult. In many cases, doctors and surgeons will try to treat these emergencies the same way they would if they weren’t caused by cocaine addiction. However, this approach isn’t always viable.
For example, stents are commonly used when treating someone for a heart attack. But stents are known for blood clots and doctors may not be able to provide you with clot-busting medication due to your cocaine use.
If you’ve suffered from past heart problems due to your cocaine abuse or want to avoid future heart problems, your best solution is to break free of your cocaine addiction with credible and effective addiction treatment.
Take Care of Your Heart with Cocaine Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House
There’s hope to recover from cocaine addiction and start taking care of your heart again. At The Raleigh House, our continuum of care can get the cocaine out of your system, help you get to the bottom of why you started using cocaine in the first place and develop new strategies and coping techniques to handle stress and prevent relapse.
Don’t let cocaine define the rest of your life. If you’re ready to defeat your addiction, we are ready to help and guide you along your entire treatment and recovery journey. Fill out our form or contact us today to get in touch with one of our friendly admissions team members.