Cardiovascular Effects of Drug Abuse

How Drugs of Abuse Affect Your Heart

Abusing powerfully addictive drugs like opioid painkillers or cocaine can lead to serious physical and mental health conditions. The cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of drug abuse. These effects can include irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Recreational drugs and even many prescription drugs can affect heart health in both the short and long term–especially when abused on a chronic basis. Combining these addictive substances with alcohol or other drugs can have deadly consequences as the effects of drug combinations are magnified.

While different drugs affect a person’s cardiovascular health differently, there’s no way to know if a single-use will lead to an acute episode or pave the way to a chronic cardiovascular health problem. Here, we’ll cover some of the most commonly abused drugs and how they can affect your cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular Effects of Stimulants

Stimulants such as cocaine have a nearly immediate effect on the heart. Within moments of taking cocaine or meth, your heart rate increases, your capillaries, and blood vessels begin to narrow, and your heart is tasked to pump harder. The increase in blood pressure and the excess stress put on the heard can cause a tear in the aorta, a complication that can be life-threatening. Abusing stimulants is linked to an increased risk for heart attack–even if you’ve never used the drug before.

The long-term effects of stimulant abuse may include hardening of the arteries and capillaries. This form of heart disease can lead to deadly blockages of the blood. Heavy cocaine and meth abuse can also lead to heart rhythm irregularities and heart inflammation. 

According to a recent study, heart damage related to meth use may be reversed in some cases; however, continuing to abuse this stimulant only increases the risk for a serious cardiovascular event such as heart failure. In fact, meth-related heart failure is rising among younger adults. By entering treatment at Discovery Point Retreat, you can protect your cardiovascular health by getting the help you need to overcome substance abuse.

Cardiovascular Effects of Opioids

Abusing addictive substances like heroin and opioid painkillers can drastically reduce cardiovascular health. Painkillers like fentanyl and oxycodone can increase the risk of health crises like heart attack and stroke. Long-term abuse of opioids also damages the electrical system of the heart, which can lead to a heightened risk for coronary artery disease. The abuse of opioids is also linked to a range of serious heart conditions ranging from the hardening of the arteries to congestive heart disease.

Moreover, injecting drugs like heroin and meth can cause a dangerous condition known as endocarditis. This condition can cause harmful bacteria to spread through the bloodstream resulting in inflammation of the heart valve and damage to the heart.

Cardiovascular Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant, so many people may not be aware that alcohol temporarily increases blood pressure and the heart rate. Blood pressure and heart rate generally return to normal when the effects of the alcohol wear off, but for chronic drinkers, this may not be the case. When blood pressure and heart rate remain elevated, heart disease may ensue. High blood pressure caused by heavy drinking is associated with hardening of the arteries, a condition that may cause a heart attack or stroke.

People who drink heavily on a regular basis can also develop an arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat caused by chemical changes in the brain. Irregular heartbeat may cause the heart to slow down or speed up. When the heart doesn’t beat at a normal rhythm, the risk for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots increases. Other alcohol-related cardiovascular conditions include congestive heart failure, a dangerous condition that not only detracts from the health of the heart but from the body’s other organs too.

Having Trouble Quitting?

Overcoming any addiction is more than just quitting drug or alcohol use. Because of the physical and psychological components of substance abuse, the prospect of recovery may seem overwhelming. Discovery Point Retreat is dedicated to helping anyone who is suffering from an abuse problem to begin their recovery journey. With substance abuse treatment, you can protect your cardiovascular health along with other aspects of your physical and mental health. Contact us today at 855-306-8054 and let us help you find the best treatment solutions for you. Schedule your confidential consultation today and begin your journey to a better, brighter future.


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