Like many drugs, the white powder made from the leaves of the coca plant, known as cocaine, or “coke” triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, making users feel that all is well with their world.
What the dealers forget to tell them, however, is that cocaine can kill you — even on the first try.
- In a normal brain, circumstances that make us feel good and happy, cause the release of dopamine by a neuron.
- From the neuron, the dopamine moves to “dopamine receptors” on yet other neurons, and so on…eventually, the dopamine is moved back to the neuron where it originated.
When cocaine enters the area of the brain where the dopamine is located, however, it blocks the action of the dopamine’s return to that neuron, thus more dopamine gathers and the user gets his “high,” that feeling of intense pleasure, excitement, self-confidence, clarity, and mastery.
But you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Too much dopamine can have very unpleasant effects such as violent, erratic behavior, dizziness, paranoia, and convulsions.
Studies have shown cocaine users have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls than non-users – all of which make Cocaine the perfect heart attack drug.
- Cocaine can cause changes in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Cocaine can also cause seizures, loss of memory and decreased learning capacity
- It can cause heart attacks and respiratory arrest
And those are just the mild effects.
- Through the use of newer imaging techniques, we also know that cocaine also hinders blood flow. It can cause permanent brain damage.
Then there’s the pairing of Cocaine and your heart.
Regardless of whether it is smoked, injected or snorted, cocaine affects the heart by causing fast, irregular heartbeats, and compressing the blood vessels, often with fatal outcomes such as:
- Heart attacks, cardiac arrest, and sudden death
- Myocarditis, or heart muscle damage leading to heart failure
- Endocarditis, (inflammation of the heart lining)
- Vascular thrombosis, (clots in the coronary arteries)
- Pulmonary edema, (fluid in the lungs)
- Dilated cardiomyopathy, (enlarged heart)
Cocaine’s effect on the heart is usually evident within 18 hours of use, but are also seen immediately, and up to 4 days later.
Signs of heart problems caused by cocaine use often include:
- chest pain
- trouble breathing
Still not convinced? It can be worse.
- Cocaine and smoking each intensifies the other’s ability to elevate the heart rate and constrict blood vessels.
- Cocaine paired with alcohol prompts the liver to make cocaethylene, a substance that steps up cocaine’s potential to cause heart strain and sudden death.