Cocaine-Related Heart Damage May Be ‘Silent’

By Dr. Matthew Watson

(HealthDay News) -- Heart damage caused by heavy cocaine use can occur without producing any symptoms, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed the heart health of 30 long-term cocaine users, average age 37, who entered a drug rehabilitation program 48 hours after they last used cocaine. They had been using cocaine for an average of 12 years and consumed about 5.5 grams of cocaine per day.

Snorting was the most common way of using cocaine, but 10 said they injected intravenously and two said they smoked it (crack cocaine).

More than half of the those addicted to cocaine also used other substances -- such as heroin and alcohol -- and one in five was infected with either hepatitis C or HIV.

Heart function was normal in all the daily cocaine users, but 12 had localized abnormalities, 83 percent had structural damage, and 47 percent had swelling (edema) in the lower left ventricle. Edema was associated with greater cocaine consumption. Read more...

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