How Does Drug Abuse Affect the Heart?

Most illegal substances have unseen physical health effects. Rarely do we consider the potential health risks to our bodies if they are not externally apparent. Nearly every illegal substance negatively affects the heart in both short and long terms ways.
Stimulants may be the most dangerous class of drugs for our hearts. Cocaine, specifically, is considered by the American Heart Association to be the “perfect heart-attack drug”. According to the AHA, “even so-called 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. An Australian study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2012 was the first to document these cardiovascular abnormalities in seemingly healthy regular cocaine users long after the immediate effects of cocaine have worn off.” The immediate effects of cocaine use on the heart cause more hospital emergency-room visits than any other illegal substance. This is because cocaine, as well as amphetamines, put overwhelming strain on the heart leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure, causing irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and strokes.
On the other end of the spectrum are various opioids and GHB, which can extremely decrease heart rate and blood pressure, slowing and eventually stopping the heart altogether. Any form of drug, when injected, creates even more potential heart risks. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “injection drug use can also lead to cardiovascular problems such as collapsed veins and bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.” Intravenous use also carries the potential to cause endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart chamber and valves. Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition with symptoms ranging from fever and chills to extreme chest pain and shortness of breath. According to the National Institutes of Health, the population of drug-users is increasing. With this increase, specifically among older users, the amount of people seeking treatment for drug-related heat complications has more than doubled. Health problems increase drastically from chronic drug use. The only way to escape potentially lethal heart problems is to break the cycle of addiction.

You don’t have to let addiction define your life. You can change your story by embracing a life of sobriety. Oceanfront Recovery, a men’s treatment facility in Orange County, California, is dedicated to providing the highest-quality care and support on your journey toward recovery. For more information about detox and treatment programs, please call today: (877) 279-1777