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Can Cocaine Cause Blood Clots

Chances are you know the common side effects of cocaine use. Maybe you have seen them in a loved one or yourself. But what is actually going on within the body?

It can’t be that bad, right? Cocaine makes you feel good, sure the crash is not your favorite part but internally, how dangerous is cocaine really?

In 2022, the rate of drug poisoning deaths was 36.2 per 100,000 Hillsborough County residents. In the same year, the rate of blood clot deaths was 3.6 per 100,000 in the same county. How many of these deaths were related to cocaine? Can cocaine cause blood clots?

At Clean Recovery Centers, we provide answers to topics surrounding substance use as a way to serve our Suncoast communities. Let’s take a look at how cocaine and blood clots coincide.

can cocaine cause blood clots clean recovery center

Cocaine’s Impact on the Heart

Cocaine use and heart health have been studied for years after it first started to become obvious that those regularly engaging with cocaine were developing heart conditions. Not every study, however, has been conclusive, and scientists feel there is more to these heart concerns than just cocaine use.

For example, those who were already at risk of developing a heart condition such as coronary artery disease had an increased likelihood of getting the condition with regular cocaine use. There are many links between cocaine and both acute and chronic health adversities, including blood clots and heart deformities.

cocaine's impact on the heartWhat Are the Short and Long-Term Repercussions of Cocaine on Your Heart Health?

When cocaine is taken, it causes the body to essentially clash within itself. On one side, heart rate, blood pressure, and the heart’s demand for oxygen all increase. However, at the same time, vasoconstriction occurs, meaning the blood vessels narrow and make it more difficult for blood to reach all the areas of the body. Vasoconstriction causes a decrease in the oxygen supply and can cause the formation of blood clots as the heart tries to continue supplying blood. This can lead to ischemia, a condition where blood supply is limited to certain tissues. It can continue into infarction, where blood flow is completely cut off and results in cell death and necrosis. Infarctions often lead to permanent damage and are the marker of a heart attack. This can happen after just one encounter with cocaine.

In the long term, cocaine can change the structure of the heart. Cardiomyopathy is defined as any disorder that affects the heart muscle. In the case of long-term cocaine use, the left ventricle sees the most damage. Cocaine affects the QRS and QT waves which occur in the left ventricle. Over time, this area becomes stretched and enlarged, hindering its ability to function properly.

Another common long-term condition caused by cocaine is atherosclerosis. This is a thickening of arteries caused by a build-up of plaque within the artery linings, which narrows the interior of the arteries. Over time, this can cause damage to vital organs by decreasing blood flow. Plaques can also burst, resulting in blood clots. Atherosclerosis is common in those who have high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. However, cocaine use can cause the condition in younger people and those without these underlying conditions.

Cocaine and Blood Clots

We have talked about a few ways cocaine can cause blood clots, but different types can result in different outcomes. Let’s take a look at these types of clots and how cocaine plays a role in their development.

Thrombosis

Thrombosis is the medical term for a blood clot and can occur in numerous places throughout the body. The most commonly seen presentation of thrombosis from cocaine use is arterial thrombosis. Arterial thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in an artery and can quickly become dangerous as it can interrupt blood flow to the heart or brain. Cocaine use has been linked to the formation of blood clots in the renal, pulmonary, and coronary arteries as well as in the aorta. Arterial thrombosis can lead to myocardial infarction – also known as a heart attack – even in individuals without having a build-up of plaque. Cocaine is the reason behind this and can occur at any time during use.

Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis are the most common forms of venous thrombosis. Venous thrombosis is a blood clot that forms within the veins. PE occurs in the lungs while DVT occurs in the legs, thighs, or hips. Although cocaine use and occurrences of PE and DVT have not been thoroughly studied, there have been case reports where they have been seen. As we talked about above, cocaine affects blood flow and how the heart functions. It causes blood to clot more rapidly and increases both platelet activation and the risk of blood clots forming.

Different Types of Stroke

Because cocaine causes the blood to clot more rapidly, there is an increased risk of developing a stroke. However, it was noted in one study that the clots did not have a high strength, showing how cocaine has a profound effect on the body’s clotting systems. It was revealed to be the cause of two different types of strokes:

  • Acute ischemic stroke: sudden loss of blood flow to an area of the brain. Ischemic strokes are common and considered a medical emergency. If blood flow is not restored promptly, the area of the brain affected can become damaged. This damage may be permanent depending on the extent.
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage: ruptured blood vessels cause blood to leak into the brain. Intracerebral hemorrhage strokes are also a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Minor strokes may be treated with monitoring and medication while others will require surgery to relieve pressure in the brain. If medical attention is not sought, intracerebral strokes are almost always fatal.

Other Effects of Cocaine on the Blood

Cocaine use can have other negative effects on the blood. One way to take cocaine is by injecting it. Those sharing needles or using unsterile syringes pose the risk of contracting a bloodborne illness, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Both conditions are highly transmittable and require medications to treat the symptoms. While medicine has advanced in recent years, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS.

Cocaine has been seen cut with levamisole, a veterinary medicine used in deworming livestock. In humans, this medicine causes skin necrosis and a purple rash known as purpura. Purpura comes from broken blood vessels under the skin, leaking blood and forming flat, purple patches. When left untreated, the surrounding tissue can die and become necrotic. This can lead to sepsis, a blood infection that is life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Seeking Treatment for Cocaine Addiction in Tampa, FL

It does not matter if you only try cocaine once or 300 times, a heart attack or stroke could be right around the corner. It doesn’t have to stay this way – choosing the path to healing is always an option. Cocaine addiction treatment is the first step on that path, and addressing the root causes of your addiction will give you the insight you need to find recovery. You will develop coping skills and healthy habits to heal your mind and body as you relearn your passions and take back your life.

Cocaine can take hold before you realize it, but hope is here and available right now. Clean Recovery Centers has helped many find their recovery through our unique, three-phase approach. We incorporate wellness components including nutritional counseling and chiropractic care to help you heal physically from cocaine use. Our dedicated team can also diagnose and treat any mental health conditions during treatment. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program or get started.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs on Cocaine and Blood Clots

Can blood clots from cocaine be reversed?

Blood clots from cocaine may be treated with blood thinners or clot-dissolving medications. However, if the clot is left untreated for too long, it can cause irreversible damage and even be fatal.

Can cocaine cause a heart attack?

Yes, cocaine can lead to a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. This can occur in individuals with no risk factors for a cardiovascular event.

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