Over 30 years ago, researchers discovered the brain mechanisms that produce the cocaine high. Ever…
Can Cocaine Give You High Blood Pressure?
Across all demographics, cocaine use is way, way up since 2010. Thanks in part to a coca plant growing boom in Colombia, cocaine prices are lower than they’ve been in years, meaning cocaine is easier and cheaper to use. Mix that with the attention given to the opioid epidemic, and cocaine use is a social problem that appears to be getting worse.
It’s no secret that cocaine overdose deaths are up. In the last three years, deaths from cocaine overdose have nearly tripled. Responsible for over 14,500 deaths in 2017, cocaine use is a national public health nightmare. It would seem that higher blood pressure isn’t much of a concern compared to sudden overdose deaths.
However, there are many more people who use cocaine and live to tell about it. People who use cocaine not only have a difficult path to getting sober, but they put themselves at risk for long-term health complications. The heart, the thing that keeps us alive every moment of our lives, is critically damaged by cocaine use.
Cocaine: Dangerously Addictive
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that binds to receptors in the brain that limit the flow of dopamine. As it attaches, the pleasure chemical, dopamine, floods the brain because cocaine has turned off the regulation system. The medical community has spent decades studying the extremely addictive qualities of cocaine. It is one of the most addictive substances on earth.
Most often, cocaine is a white powdery substance that is snorted. When it is smoked, it is referred to as “crack,” but there is no difference in addiction and substance between regular cocaine and crack cocaine, besides the stigma.
Cocaine and Overdose
Most people who use cocaine do so in binge fashion, snorting copious amounts of the drug in a relatively short amount of time. The binging culture of cocaine use is one of the reasons why cocaine overdoses represent more emergency room visits per year than nearly any other drug.
When somebody overdoses, convulsions and death can occur in as little as two minutes, but sometimes it can be up to 30 minutes after the last use. Cocaine overdose occurs in three stages; early stimulation, advanced stimulation, and depression and premorbid state.
1. Early Stimulation
Symptoms include: nausea, headache, vomiting, muscle twitching, minor hallucinations (cocaine bugs), increase in blood pressure, fluctuating pulse rate, increased breathing rate, and increased body temperature.
In this phase, cocaine’s high is pleasurable. It includes euphoria, elation, talkativeness, elevated excitement levels, agitation, and unexpected mood changes.
2. Advanced Stimulation:
Symptoms include: seizures, a decrease in reaction time, incontinence, loss of involuntary muscle control, hypertension, tachycardia, irregular and weak pulse, gasping, irregular breathing, and severe hyperthermia (elevated body temp.)
This stage is a critical health emergency. Often, the person will become unconscious and foaming of the mouth may occur. Emergency care is needed.
3. Depression and Premorbid State
Symptoms include: coma, fixed or dilated pupils, flaccid paralysis, organ failure, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, death.
The most common cause of death by coke overdose is cardiac arrest. If someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction, you or a loved one doesn’t have to wait until an ER visit. Recovery can begin today.
Long-Term Health Risks
Dubbed the “Perfect Heart Attack Drug,” the stimulant has dire effects on a user’s heart condition. Even recreational cocaine users may have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and thicker heart muscles. All of these conditions increase the risk of heart attack compared to non-users.
According to an Australian study that was accepted by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2012, cocaine’s harmful effects on the heart outlast the immediate high produced by snorting a line. In the study, researchers found:
- 30 to 35 percent increase in aortic stiffening
- 8 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure
- 18 percent greater thickness of the heart’s left ventricle wall
For people who have used cocaine regularly, possibly for years, the risk of heart disease will be higher than those who have only experimented with coke. Like most chronic health issues, cutting out unhealthy habits is the first step to improving your health. Additionally, many people who use cocaine, exercise less and eat unhealthier than people who don’t use.
The only sure way to limit cocaine’s damage to the heart is to stop abusing. Addiction is a disease, but recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is concerned about the long-term health complications and how to ensure that someone is around for their children’s graduations and weddings, call our addictions specialists today. Addiction is not a life sentence. Recovery has to begin somewhere, why not start recovering before an emergency room is needed?