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How Cocaine Affects the Heart: Everything You Need to Know

Jul 21, 2022 | Drug Addiction

Cocaine’s effects on the heart are a ticking time bomb to your cardiovascular system. Prolonged abuse of cocaine causes irreparable damage to vital organs and surrounding tissue. Once this damage is done, every use from that point forward is like flipping a coin with your life.

No drug is worth your life. Understanding the substance and the coinciding health consequences can open your eyes to the severe cocaine effects on the heart.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine, which derives from Cocoa plant leaves from South America, is a natural stimulant to your body and brain waves. This “upper” can do damage fast as it speeds up your body’s processes both mentally and physically. This means it accelerates message-receiving neurons that overwhelm the pleasure centers of your brain.

This hyperactivity is what gives it the street name “speed” as it speeds up all of your body’s vital mental and bodily functions. These abnormally accelerated levels of dopamine and other bodily functions make cocaine’s effects on the heart so dangerous.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Body?

At first, ‘speed’ doesn’t attack the heart directly. But its bodily effects have deteriorative repercussions that weaken your cardiovascular structure.

All the various ways the stimulant affects your body further magnify the strained cocaine effects on the heart. Each one of these factors individually accelerates the deterioration process of your cardiovascular system. These effects on the heart and body become irreversible when their toll has run its course.

Intense Withdrawal Symptoms

Once the psychedelic compounds of cocaine are introduced to your body, it implants a psychological dependency. This newly-formed chemical dependency produces an onset of potentially pain-staking withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.

Withdrawal symptoms are your body’s process of restabilizing the neuronic brain waves that substances have destabilized. Doctors may recommend medications as a short-term solution to help you endure the short period of intense withdrawal symptoms in recovery.

High Blood Pressure

Because your body functions at an abnormally high rate under the influence of cocaine, blood pressure levels elevate. Increased blood pressure can have a domino effect on other parts of the body, causing inadvertent damage to other vital organs.

Think of your internal organs as a hollow wall that is continually pushed against for several hours or days. Now imagine that happening nearly every day for a year and you have an idea of the ulcerative strains cocaine can cause in any region of your body.  This is why blood clots and other coagulating health conditions commonly coincide with cocaine abuse.

Hyperactive Dopamine Levels

The chemical compounds of cocaine in your brain produce abnormal synthetic amounts of dopamine that flood your mind’s pleasure center. This initial flooding is what triggers the rise in blood pressure needed to keep up with the absorption of cocaine. This increases stroke risks more and more over time.

This effect is one of the numerous reasons cocaine is a ticking time bomb, affecting every person differently. Some can ingest cocaine for years and later develop long-term conditions while another can use cocaine once and have life-threatening consequences. Everybody has their limit and each use is like flipping a coin with your life.

Damage to Other Vital Organs

The collective stress of hyperactive dopamine levels and high blood pressure can put additional strain on other overwhelmed organs. Blood is to your organs what water is to pipes. It takes a certain amount of flow to create the right pressure for its outlet to function correctly.

Too much water pressure in pipes causes blockages and/or stress that can weaken the metal and burst. In the case of your organs, too much pressure in blood flow means too much pressure on your kidneys, liver, and other vital functions. Once this pressure has taken its course, it can cause ulcers, among other permanent conditions.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Heart

cocaine effects on heart

Everything you ingest passes through the cardiovascular system. Therefore any discrepancies in your body’s chemical balance are sure to affect your heart and other surrounding heart tissue.

The conditions below are the most common associated with cocaine’s effects on the heart. Get help today to prevent further heart damage from happening to you or someone you know.

Increased Heart Rate

Elevated neuronic signals caused by cocaine mean your body has to work faster and harder to send those signals. Your body is a machine meticulously geared to respond and react to what you put into your body.

When cocaine is introduced to the brain and body, one of the first immediate alterations is increased heart rate. Of course, when your blood vessels and heart rate work faster, your heart works faster. Too much exposure to these short-term effects will ultimately damage cardiovascular tissues and functions around the organ, as well as the heart itself.

Arterial Damage

The debilitating effects of cocaine on the body exhaust arteries and blood vessels beyond their capacity. That’s why Coronary Artery Disease is one of the most commonly developed health conditions as a result of cocaine abuse. Once that damage to your arteries has taken its course it’s irreversible.

The best you could do for your body at that point is remove cocaine from your life while you can still enjoy a long life. You can, however, prevent further damage and even fatal results of continued use by getting therapy now. Add years back onto your life by choosing to say no to substance abuse.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a weakening of the heart muscle that prevents it from pumping blood throughout the body effectively. Blood to your organs is like water to grass, it needs the proper ‘watering’ to remain healthy. In context, if the proper amount of blood cannot reach your organs, your vital functions will gradually deteriorate.

If left untreated, this causes other organs to shut down by their inability to receive the appropriate blood/oxygen content to properly function.

Structural Damage

Prolonged exposure to cocaine can cause structural damage by the physical defects brought about by substance abuse. Such substances put so much strain on your heart over time that they can produce physical calluses on the heart and surrounding vessels.

This reshaping of the heart muscle and cardiovascular structure alone can be the primary cause of permanent heart conditions. Prevent or minimize these structural damages to your body before it’s too late.


Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that has ripple effects throughout your bodily functions. Cocaine imbalances the natural electromagnetic frequencies in your heart due to its adverse effects on sodium and potassium balance. These are the most vital nutrients your heart needs to function at its healthiest peak.

Removing these strongholds from your life can help you normalize these levels by reestablishing a healthy overall body chemical balance.

Cardiac Arrest and Thrombosis

Ultimately, continual use will lead to heart attack or stroke as a result of the toll cocaine’s effects on the heart induce on your entire body. The human body can only take so much strain from foreign substances before it succumbs to persistent abuse. In fact, it’s worth noting that every individual heart has its different limitations. It doesn’t even have to be from prolonged use.

Concerningly, cardiac arrest occurrences from single-use are surprisingly more frequent than you’d think. Whether it’s your first use or 100th use, everybody has a limit. Once that limit is breached, that’s it. Having the mindset that your next ‘bump’ could be your last could be the fuel you or a loved one needs to get back on track.


Angina occurs when the heart is receiving poor blood flow. The cause of angina is most commonly due to a build-up of plaque in the vessels of the heart or in the heart muscle itself. This build-up is like the hardened protective “calluses” your body builds up with prolonged exposure. Like guitar strings to the tips of hardened fingertips, so is the plaque that builds up as your body’s defense mechanism against cocaine.

With increased plaque comes increased flow constriction, which leads to heart failure and the other conditions on this list. Thus, the same calluses causing your Angina can be a result of many debilitating substance-based health problems.

therapist for heart illness cause of Cocaine addiction

Your Ticket to a Better Life

The compassionate understanding you get from the therapists at Casco Bay Recovery can be your long-awaited ticket to a better life. We care about your sobriety, your struggles, and most importantly, your well-being. It’s for that very reason that therapeutic receptionists are standing by in eager anticipation of your call.

Regardless of what harm your body has gone through, you can turn the tide and begin the restoration process. It’s never too late to achieve recovery. Most importantly, it’s never too late to enjoy life to the fullest. Your first step of life-long joy is at your fingertips. By accepting help, you’ve taken the first all-important step toward your sobriety.

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