Can Drugs Cause Heart Attacks?

June 25, 2024

Explore the compelling link between drugs and heart attacks. Unmask the hidden risk factors today.

Never miss an opportunity

Contact Samba Recovery Today

Drugs and Heart Health

Research indicates that certain drugs can negatively impact heart health, raising the question 'can drugs cause heart attacks?'. This section will delve into the impact of prescription drugs and cocaine on heart health.

Impact of Prescription Drugs

A variety of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and natural supplements can contribute to or exacerbate heart failure. This includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diabetes medications, and blood pressure medicine. These substances can increase the risk of heart failure and related complications through various mechanisms WebMD.

Drug Type Potential Impact on Heart Health
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Can raise the risk of heart failure
Diabetes medications Can exacerbate heart conditions
Blood pressure medicine Can contribute to heart-related complications

It's crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before starting or changing any medication regimen, especially for individuals with existing heart conditions or those at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cocaine and Heart Attacks

Cocaine has earned a notorious reputation as the "perfect heart-attack drug". Research has shown a significant link between regular cocaine use and non-fatal heart attacks in adults. Cocaine use can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or aneurysm.

Recent data from the United States indicates that one in four myocardial infarcts in people aged 18-45 years can be linked to cocaine use [2]. This finding suggests that variations in definitions may contribute to under-reporting of drug-related heart complications.

Substance Potential Impact on Heart Health
Cocaine Can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or aneurysm

Understanding the connection between drug use and heart health can help individuals make informed decisions about their substance use and take steps to safeguard their cardiovascular health.

Effects of Specific Drugs

The correlation between drug use and heart health is a major concern, especially when considering the question, 'can drugs cause heart attacks?' This section will delve into the cardiovascular risks associated with the use of specific drugs, including heroin, volatile substances, and cannabis.

Heroin and Cardiovascular Risks

Heroin, along with its semisynthetic analogue, is the most commonly misused narcotic analgesic, accounting for almost half of drug-related deaths. It impacts the heart by acting centrally to increase parasympathetic and reduce sympathetic activity. This results in bradycardia and hypotension. Various bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias have been reported in association with heroin use.

Volatile Substances Misuse

Volatile substances, often misused by adolescents, can also pose significant cardiovascular risks. Most deaths linked to volatile substance misuse occur in boys, with cardiac arrhythmias being the main cause of sudden cardiac death in this group. These arrhythmias can be triggered by sympathetic activation or myocardial sensitization to circulating catecholamines.

Cannabis and Cardiovascular Function

Cannabis consumption can lead to adverse hemodynamic changes, including tachycardia and increased cardiac output at low or moderate doses. Higher doses may result in bradycardia, hypotension, and increase parasympathetic activity. These changes can increase myocardial oxygen consumption which can trigger plaque rupture in vulnerable individuals, thereby posing a potential risk for heart attacks.

In conclusion, different drugs can have varying effects on the cardiovascular system. The misuse of these substances can indeed increase the risk of heart attacks, emphasizing the need for awareness and prevention measures.

Substance Use Disorders

The connection between substance use disorders (SUDs) and heart health is a topic of increasing concern. Certain substances can have a detrimental impact on the cardiovascular system, leading to a range of health complications, including heart attacks.

Association with Cardiovascular Diseases

Substance use disorders are considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disorders (CVDs). According to the National Drug Use and Health Survey (NSDUH) in 2019, 20.4 million American adults suffered from a substance use disorder.

Among these respondents, those with a history of CVDs were more likely to have concurrent diagnoses of other health conditions. For instance, hypertension was present in 85.98% of these individuals, hypercholesterolemia in 68.78%, diabetes in 37.86%, stroke in 17.4%, and congestive heart failure in 28.80%.

After adjusting for socio-demographics and comorbidities, certain forms of substance use, including marijuana/hashish use, injectable illegal drug use, and cigarette smoking, were associated with higher odds of CVDs.

Accelerated Aging Effects

Substance use disorders, particularly those involving substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids, have been linked to accelerated aging and an increased risk of premature cardiovascular diseases. These include ischemic heart disease and peripheral arterial disease.

For instance, cocaine and methamphetamine use can adversely affect arteries and blood vessels, causing elevated blood pressure, acute vasospasm, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Additionally, cannabis use has been associated with accelerated cardiovascular aging. Methamphetamine use can lead to structural and electrical remodeling of cardiac tissue, resulting in arrhythmias and heart failure [4].

There is growing evidence suggesting that the epidemics of substance use disorders, especially those involving the abuse of stimulants and opioids, may contribute to an increase in early onset atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVDs). This could result in a dramatic increase in premature ASCVD as these cohorts age.

From this information, it is clear that substance use disorders can indeed have a significant impact on heart health, answering the question "can drugs cause heart attacks?" with a resounding yes.

Polydrug Abuse

Polydrug abuse refers to the use of multiple substances concurrently, a prevalent issue particularly among young adults. It has been associated with severe outcomes, including worse neurocognitive outcomes and increased cardiovascular disease risks. This section delves into these effects and the related risks it poses to heart health.

Neurocognitive Outcomes

Polydrug abuse has been associated with worsened neurocognitive outcomes. This refers to a decline in cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and decision-making abilities. Such neurocognitive impairment not only impacts the individual's daily life and mental health but can also exacerbate the severity of substance use disorders and hinder recovery efforts.

The exact mechanisms through which polydrug abuse leads to neurocognitive deficits are complex and not fully understood. However, it is believed that the use of multiple substances can have synergistic effects on the brain, leading to more significant damage compared to the use of a single substance.

Cardiovascular Disease Risks

In addition to its impacts on cognitive function, polydrug abuse has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, the risk of premature and extremely premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) was found to increase with each additional substance used [4].

Substance use disorders, including the abuse of drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids, have been associated with accelerated aging and an increased risk of premature cardiovascular diseases, including ischemic heart disease and peripheral arterial disease. For instance, cocaine and methamphetamine can have adverse effects on arteries and blood vessels, leading to elevated blood pressure, acute vasospasm, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Cannabis use has also been associated with accelerated cardiovascular aging. Methamphetamine use can lead to structural and electrical remodeling of cardiac tissue, leading to arrhythmias and heart failure [4].

There is growing evidence to suggest that the epidemics of substance use disorders, especially the abuse of stimulants and opioids, may contribute to an increase in early onset ASCVDs. This could result in an entire cohort of individuals experiencing a dramatic increase in premature ASCVD as they age.

In conclusion, polydrug abuse presents significant risks to both neurocognitive and cardiovascular health. These risks underscore the importance of prevention, early intervention, and effective treatment strategies for individuals struggling with substance use disorders.

Non-Medical Substance Use

The abuse of substances for non-medical purposes has been linked to a variety of health risks, particularly in relation to cardiovascular health.

Risk Factors for ASCVD

Non-medical substance use, including the use of tobacco, alcohol, amphetamine, cocaine, cannabis, and other drugs, is independently associated with an increased risk of premature and extremely premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD). The use of illicit amphetamines, such as methamphetamine, carries the greatest cardiovascular risk among illicit drugs.

Additionally, polysubstance abuse, which is the use of multiple substances, is prevalent among young adults and has been associated with worse neurocognitive outcomes and more severe disease outcomes than the abuse of a single substance. The risk of premature and extremely premature ASCVD increases with each additional substance used.

In fact, one in four myocardial infarcts in people aged 18-45 years can be linked to cocaine use according to recent data from the United States, suggesting variations in definitions may contribute to under-reporting of adverse cardiac events related to recreational drugs [2].

Furthermore, frequent cannabis smoking may significantly increase a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke, with daily use of cannabis associated with a 25% increased likelihood of heart attack and a 42% increased likelihood of stroke compared to non-use of the drug. Even weekly users showed increased likelihoods of heart attack (3%) and stroke (5%) [5].

Gender Disparities

There is a significant disparity in the incidence of extremely premature and premature ASCVD between males and females. Non-medical substance use is associated with a significantly greater risk of these conditions in females compared to males. However, the interaction between sex and individual substance use patterns is complex, and further research is needed to fully understand the relationship [4].

This section provides an overview of the risks associated with non-medical substance use, focusing on atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) and gender disparities. It is evident that the abuse of drugs, both prescription and illicit, can significantly elevate the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. This underscores the importance of preventing substance abuse and providing effective treatment and support for those struggling with substance use disorders.

Specific Drug Risks

In the pursuit of understanding the query 'can drugs cause heart attacks?', it becomes crucial to delve into the specific risks associated with different types of drugs. In this context, we will focus on the impacts of opioid-use disorder and amphetamines on one's heart health.

Opioid-Use Disorder

Opioid-use disorder is a significant health concern, affecting more than 2 million people in the United States. Alarmingly, over 80,000 people succumbed to opioid drug overdoses in the country in 2021 alone.

One of the significant cardiovascular risks associated with opioid-use disorder is infective endocarditis, a severe infection of the heart lining. This condition is often caused by shared or dirty needles, a common practice among people who inject opioids. The infection can lead to severe damage to the heart and, in severe cases, may result in a heart attack.

Furthermore, opioids are also linked to cardiac arrest, proving the connection between drug use and heart attacks. Prescribed opioids like morphine, while beneficial for pain management, may have adverse effects on patients with acute coronary syndrome, highlighting the need for careful monitoring and administration of these drugs.

Amphetamines and Heart Health

Just like opioids, amphetamines can also pose significant risks to cardiovascular health [1]. These stimulant drugs, often used illegally, can cause a range of heart-related issues, from increased heart rate and blood pressure to severe conditions like heart failure and heart attacks.

Amphetamines force the heart to work harder than normal, causing strain and potential damage. Over time, this strain can lead to a weakening of the heart muscle, contributing to heart disease and increasing the risk of heart attacks.

Additionally, amphetamines can cause constriction of the blood vessels, which further exacerbates the strain on the heart and increases the risk of heart-related complications. The risk is even greater when these drugs are used in combination with other substances, a practice known as polydrug use.

In conclusion, both opioid-use disorder and amphetamines pose substantial risks to heart health, reinforcing the need for increased awareness and prevention efforts to mitigate the devastating impacts of these substances on the cardiovascular system.

References

[1]: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/illegal-drugs-and-heart-disease

[2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1121066/

[3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9386401/

[4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8075271/

[5]: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/smoking-cannabis-associated-increased-risk-heart-attack-stroke

start your recovery today

Samba Recovery never miss an opportunity

Substance abuse doesn’t have to be a life sentence! Sustainable recovery is possible and the best version of youself awaits at our Norcross addiction recovery center.

We’ll help you learn that the opposite of addiction is connection. We’ll give you skills to discover your self-worth and show you the tools for a life of hope and promise.

Contact us today!

Our team is ready to help!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

We accept most major insurances

We partner with most major insurances, enabling you to access premier therapy services.