Cocaine is the "perfect heart attack drug" as its even occasional use can significantly raise the risk of heart attack, says a new study.
Researchers from University of Sydney say that people who use cocaine have stiffer arteries and high blood pressure than non-users.
"It's so sad. We are repeatedly seeing young, otherwise fit individuals suffering massive heart attacks related to cocaine use. Despite being well-educated professionals, they have no knowledge of the health consequences of regularly using cocaine," said Gemma Figtree, lead researcher of the study from University of Sydney.
The study involved 40 healthy males with 20 cocaine users and 20 non-users. Researchers found that cocaine users had an increase in multiple risk factors for heart-related events when compared to non-users.
Cocaine users had a 35 percent increase in aortic stiffening, 8 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure; and 18 percent greater thickness of the heart's left ventricle, according to a press release from American Heart Association.
"Stiffer vessels are known to be associated with elevated systolic blood pressure. As a result, the heart is required to work harder, and its walls become hypertrophied or thicker," Figtree said.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.
Cocaine users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.
Over 400,000 emergency room visits each year are cocaine related in the United States, while over 5,000 people die from overdose, according to CDC.