Whitney Houston’s Death: Is There A Cocaine-Heart Attack Connection?

    • Powdered cocaine — commonly known on the street as “coke” or “blow” — dissolves in water. Users can snort or inject powdered cocaine.

    • Crack cocaine — commonly known on the street as “crack” or “rock” — is made by a chemical process that leaves it in its “freebase” form, which can be smoked.
    About 14% of U.S. adults have tried cocaine. One in 40 adults has used it in the past year. Young men aged 18 to 25 are the biggest cocaine users, with 8% using it in the previous 12 months.

    Exactly How Does Cocaine Hurt The Body?

    Cocaine produces its powerful high by acting on the brain. But as cocaine travels through the blood, it affects the whole body. Cocaine is responsible for more U.S. emergency room visits than any other illegal drug. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs — and can even cause sudden death. Here’s what happens in the body:

    Heart. Cocaine is bad for the heart. Cocaine increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The result can be a heart attack, even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also trigger a deadly abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia.

    Brain. Cocaine can constrict blood vessels in the brain, causing strokes. This can happen even in young people without other risk factors for strokes. Cocaine causes seizures and can lead to bizarre or violent behavior.

    Lungs and respiratory system.
    Snorting cocaine damages the nose and sinuses. Regular use can cause nasal perforation. Smoking crack cocaine irritates the lungs and, in some people, causes permanent lung damage.

    Gastrointestinal tract. Cocaine constricts blood vessels supplying the gut. The resulting oxygen starvation can cause ulcers, or even perforation of the stomach or intestines.

    Kidneys. Cocaine can cause sudden, overwhelming kidney failure through a process called rhabdomyolysis. In people with high blood pressure, regular cocaine use can accelerate the long-term kidney damage caused by high blood pressure.

    Sexual function.
    Although cocaine has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, it actually may make you less able to finish what you start. Chronic cocaine use can impair sexual function in men and women. In men, cocaine can cause delayed or impaired ejaculation.

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