An Australian study showed that recreational cocaine users may develop stiffer arteries, thicker heart muscles and higher blood pressure, leading to higher risk of heart attack.
The volunteers who had taken cocaine at least once per month for the previous year showed arteries thickened by up to 35% and an 18% greater thickness in a main chamber of the heart just 48 hours after taking the drug. 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.
Dr Gemma Figtree, of the University of Sydney’s medical school, said: ‘We are repeatedly seeing young, otherwise fit individuals suffering massive heart attacks related to cocaine use.’
The team noticed a surge of cocaine-related heart attacks at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital which lead to the team to develop the study. Previous studies have shown the effects of cocaine on the heart among regular users and addicts but not those who take it socially.
The Royal Brompton Hospital private patients’ centre offers a Heart Risk Clinic for people who have concerns about their heart health. This heart screening service from £195 takes just over two hours and can help save lives by detecting the early signs of heart problems.