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Cardiovascular Effects of Drug Abuse

How Commonly Abused Drugs Affect Your Heart

Drug abuse can take a serious toll on mental and physical health. While the effects of drug use varies depending on several factors, most addictive substances like stimulants and opioids can cause chronic and even deadly cardiovascular health effects. These effects may include irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. 

In some cases, a single use could lead to a life-threatening cardiovascular emergency. Chronic drug abuse is also linked to a range of cardiovascular health complications like heart disease and heart failure. The risks for cardiovascular damage increases dramatically if you combine drugs or take drugs with alcohol.

Different drugs can affect heart health in different ways. Here are some of the most common drugs of abuse and their effects on cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular Effects of Stimulants

Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are categorized as stimulants. These drugs tend to have a near-immediate effect on the cardiovascular system. Soon after taking a stimulant, your heart rate increases as your blood vessels and capillaries narrow. This causes your blood pressure to increase as the heart is forced to work harder. This extra stress can cause a cardiovascular emergency like heart failure or stroke. 

Abusing stimulants like cocaine and meth regularly can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease may worsen heart damage by causing hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.  Continuing to abuse stimulants can lead to heart attacks or other potentially fatal consequences. 

According to a recent study, heart damage caused by methamphetamine may be reversible through addiction recovery. However, chronic abuse of stimulants can also lead to permanent cardiovascular conditions. The key to protecting your heart from heart disease, a worsening condition, or a life-threatening emergency is to stop using cocaine or meth. At Garden Heights Recovery, we can help you overcome addiction once and for all.

Cardiovascular Effects of Opioids

Heroin and prescription painkiller abuse have reached an epidemic level in the United States. While these drugs have a reputation for causing respiratory failure, they’re also linked to serious cardiovascular conditions. 

Long-term abuse of opioids can cause a buildup of scar tissue on the cardiac muscle, which can be a precursor to sudden cardiac death. Other cardiovascular effects of opioid abuse include reduced blood flow, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and stroke. Injecting opioids can increase these risks and also lead to a deadly condition known as endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart chambers and valves.

Cardiovascular Effects of Alcohol

Even though alcohol is a depressant, it causes blood pressure and heart rate to increase within moments of having a drink. In most cases, this increase subsides when you stop drinking, but people with an alcohol use disorder may suffer from a chronic increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This elevation increases the risk for conditions like hardening of the arteries and may cause a heart attack or stroke. 

Chronic alcohol abuse can also lead to an irregular heartbeat, a condition known as arrhythmia. Arrhythmias may cause the heart to speed up or slow down and can cause blood clots, heart attack, and even death. In the long term, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to congestive heart failure, a deadly condition that can also cause organ failure.

Are You Having Trouble Quitting?

Overcoming substance abuse and addiction is vital to protecting your cardiovascular health as well as your overall well-being. If you’re suffering with an addiction, it may seem impossible to stop using on your own. Contact Garden Heights Recovery at 877-649-0440 and let us help you begin your journey to recovery. Consultations are always confidential, and we’re here to answer all of your questions and help you choose the ideal treatment program for you.


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