By Staff Writer
Cocaine addiction may cause major cardiovascular complications in individuals, even if they feel perfectly healthy, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Medicine: Heart.
The findings are important because they shed new light on the damage that cocaine can do to the heart. While it is known that the drug increases users’ risk of complications, these are normally thought to manifest themselves in the form of a heart attack. However, the new data suggest that cocaine use may cause damage to the heart that persists, even after they quit, resulting in a permanent risk.
For the study, researchers took a variety of measures of heart health from 30 individuals who had recently recovered from a cocaine addiction. The results showed that 47 percent had accumulations of fluid – also called edema – in the heart and 73 percent had scarring known as fibrosis.
The researchers said that the type of scarring their study uncovered is normally indicative of minor heart attacks and may represent a significantly increased future risk. The team said that testing cocaine addicts for these symptoms could be important.