November 13th, 2009
Recent studies done in Spain showed that over three per cent of all sudden deaths are related to the use of cocaine. Forensic pathologists suppose that their study can also relate to other sudden deaths in Europe, showing that cocaine use is widely spread all over the continent. This health problem is a really a point of concern since there is no “recreational use” or “safe amount” that can save a person from any kind of complications, and since over 30 million Americans are believed to have tried this illegal substance ever in their lives, and estimated 5 million are regular users. An important public health issue like this needs to be brought to attention in hope that it will lower the number of regular users and prevent first-time users from making a habit out of it.
Studies done back in 1999 showed that during the first hours after using cocaine the risk of getting a heart attack increases almost 25 times in people with healthy heart. Cocaine intake causes adverse changes to the heart and arteries that then can lead to sudden death. The different ways in which cocaine influences the heart are:
a) Can cause high blood pressure, heart rate and contractions.
b) Constricts coronary arteries that feed blood to the heart causing an obstruction in the blood flow.
Smoking and alcohol consumption are also related to heart issues. According to research results, cocaine use is often accompanied by alcohol and tobacco use. The combination of these substances is considered a lethal cocktail that promotes the development of premature heart disease.
Scientists in Spain agreed to perform post-mortem toxicological examinations in every sudden death case to confirm or eliminate the possibility of cocaine use. This will make possible to monitor the relationship between the consumption of this particular illegal substance and sudden deaths caused by a heart failure.
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