The Grapevine

Side Effects Of Cocaine: Risk Of Sudden Death Is Quadrupled In Cocaine Users

cocaine
Even more reasons not to use cocaine. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The government doesn’t label cocaine as an illegal substance because they want to ruin your Friday night fun. It does so because the drug's both extremely addictive and dangerous. A recent study has uncovered just how detrimental regular cocaine use is to your body, and found that it quadruples the risk of death in people aged 19 to 49.

In a seven-year-long study, researchers from the Basque Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Biomedical Research Centre Network into Mental Health in Spain reviewed the circumstances involving 437 sudden cardiovascular deaths not due to disease or acute intoxication. In order to properly compare, the doctors also reviewed the deaths of 126 people who died of other causes, according to the study's press release

Results showed that the quadruple risk of death from cocaine consumption in the 19 to 49 age bracket was greater in men than women. Around 10 percent of all these deaths were related to cocaine consumption, and around two percent of those who had died from non-cardiovascular-related deaths were linked to cocaine. When compared to the general population, those who had recently used cocaine had sudden death rates between 13 and 58 times higher.

“The research team believes that the effects of cocaine on the cardiovascular system could explain the higher risk of sudden death amongst users of this drug,” the researchers wrote.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 1.9 million Americans use. Adults make up the majority of cocaine users, with those aged 18 to 25 making up the highest percentage. The effects of cocaine are immediate with an often short-lived high. Many take the drug to feel more energetic and mentally alert.

Britain is home to the most cocaine users, Business Insider reported, with the Isle of Man, Scotland, and England taking up the top spots. Other large countries with high cocaine use include: Spain, the United States, Italy, and Australia.

According to the researchers, cocaine increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and the contractility of the left ventricle of the heart. The drug is also associated with diminishing coronary blood flow and is related to the formations of blood clots and heart arrhythmias. The team determined that these effects could account for the increase of sudden death observed in cocaine users.

Although the results do seem to indicate a link between cocaine use and increased risk of sudden cardiovascular death, the team did remark that the results could come from an underlying cardiovascular disease that has not been diagnosed.

Source: Morentin B, Ballesteros J, Callado LF, JJM. Recent cocaine use is a significant risk factor for sudden cardiovascular death in 15–49-year-old subjects: a forensic case–control study. Addiction. 2014.

Loading...