Using too much cocaine at one time, known as an overdose, can be fatal. Out of all illegal drugs, cocaine is the most likely to lead to an emergency room visit. Almost 14,000 drug overdose deaths resulted from cocaine use in 2017.

Deaths from cocaine are most commonly caused by:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

While cocaine increases dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain to create euphoric effects while boosting confidence and focus, it also stimulates the cardiovascular system. These cardiovascular effects are by far the most dangerous.

Cardiovascular effects of cocaine use include:

  • Blood vessels constriction
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

Rapid heart rate increases the amount of oxygen that the heart requires, which it receives through blood flow. However, when blood vessels are constricted, less oxygenated blood is available to supply the heart muscle. A heart attack occurs when not enough oxygen can reach the heart muscle.

Risk of heart attack is 23 times more likely after cocaine use compared to baseline.  Cocaine has been called the “perfect heart attack drug” due to the multiple ways it increases heart attack risk.

Older adults and those with any cardiovascular disease are more susceptible to the effects of cocaine. However, young people and those with no risk factors may still experience a heart attack due to cocaine use.

Cocaine deaths are not solely attributed to heart attacks. Cocaine can cause a fatal stroke. Although the exact reasons for this risk are unknown, it is partially due to the increased risk for blood clots. Cocaine also lowers the seizure threshold, meaning it can make seizure more likely even if someone has not had a seizure before.

Signs of a Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine intoxication and overdose are serious risks when abusing the drug. Intoxication comes when the person feels high but ill at the same time. Overdose is more extreme than intoxication and can be deadly. Signs of a cocaine overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • High body temperature or severe sweating
  • Bluish color of the skin
  • Difficulty breathing

A cocaine overdose is a medical emergency. Although dangerous, it may be treatable if recognized early. An overdose can even occur the first time someone uses cocaine. Seek medical attention immediately if a cocaine overdose is suspected.

Key Points: Cocaine Use and Death

Because cocaine is a widely used drug, it’s important to know about the drug to understand when someone may have an addiction or experience an overdose. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause immediate death
  • Deaths most commonly occur through an overdose
  • Cocaine overdose can cause heart attack, stroke or seizure
  • The most common signs of cocaine overdose include chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • If a cocaine overdose is suspected, contact emergency medical help immediately

Cocaine is a dangerous and addictive drug. If you or a loved one struggle with cocaine use, The Recovery Village can help. Contact The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative and learn more about cocaine addiction treatment. You deserve a healthier future.

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