As we’ll explore, there is growing evidence showing that drug abuse can cause congestive heart failure. Even in recovery, many people still must deal with the complications of drug use and heart failure.
Heart failure is estimated to affect just under 6 million people each year in the United States. It’s a serious and prevalent condition that indicates a person’s heart is functioning less efficiently than it should.
There are many potential causes behind the development of congestive heart failure, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and long-standing alcohol use disorder. Each damages the heart muscle over time. Subsequently, blood begins to move through the body and heart slower while blood pressure increases simultaneously.
Congestive heart failure is the heart’s inability to pump enough nutrients and oxygens to meet the body’s basic and vital needs. Congestive heart failure may cause heart chambers to stretch or even thicken. The kidneys may begin to retain fluid in response to heart failure.
As fluids build, salt also accumulates in the body. Fluids and salts tend to congregate throughout the limbs, organs, and lungs. The result is congestion, known as congestive heart failure.
How Does Drug Use Cause Congestive Heart Failure?
Drug abuse is categorized as the compulsive consumption of a substance that can affect a person’s biochemical and neurological state. Recreational drug use can quickly transition into dependency as the brain’s ability to receive healthy signals via neurotransmitters is altered.
Ingesting harmful substances like drugs has long been linked to health deterioration specific to the heart and blood vessels. Any type of cardiovascular damage due to drug use can significantly impact a person’s overall health. It can also directly affect their lifespan. The link between drug use and heart failure often results from cardiovascular diseases developed over time.
The Dangers of Cardiovascular Damage Due to Drug Use
Asking “can drug abuse cause congestive heart failure?” is an important question with addiction rates on the rise nationally.1 Unfortunately, people using drugs regularly often mix these substances with alcohol to enhance the physical and psychological high.
The American College of Cardiology Journal has found that mixing drugs and alcohol increases the risk of a heart attack, irregular heart rate, and congestive heart failure.2 It’s very common for those using drugs to experience a hike in blood pressure.
When a person’s heart has to work harder to move blood throughout the body, it doesn’t take long for issues with other organs to follow. Mixing drugs and alcohol only enhances the potential for damage to the heart.
Regular drug use can also cause damage to the tissues surrounding the heart and the vital blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body. When these blood vessels can’t perform their job correctly, there’s a risk that waste products can travel to the liver or kidney.
How Different Drugs Can Cause Congestive Heart Failure
All drugs can potentially cause cardiovascular issues leading to congestive heart failure. However, illicit substances are particularly problematic. Topping the list of risky substances are amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy.
Amphetamines and Congestive Heart Failure
Amphetamines are stimulants to treat conditions like hyperactivity disorders or even obesity. While physicians legally prescribe the vast majority, they are highly addictive and frequently abused.
The long-term consequences of amphetamines include increased blood pressure and heart rate. Both can cause inflammation of the heart and surrounding vessels leading to congestive heart failure. Methamphetamines are even worse when it comes to the potential for damage to the heart.
Methamphetamines are known for causing arrhythmia. Over time, it becomes difficult for the heart to move blood and oxygen, and at this point, it doesn’t take long for congestive heart failure to set in.
Cocaine, Ecstasy, and Heart Failure
Also falling into the stimulant category of drugs is cocaine. Even if a person consumes cocaine only occasionally, it can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Hardened arteries
- Enlarged heart
These potential symptoms put the user at risk for a heart attack, aortic rupture, and overall deterioration of heart functionality.
Medically known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ecstasy is a popular party drug. Users can ingest it in tablet or powder form. It’s extremely detrimental to the heart and, even with minimal usage, can cause severe heart inflammation leading to congestive heart failure with time.
Researchers have found links between ecstasy and blood pressure and painful palpitations. Ultimately, these symptoms can lead to a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.
Reach Out Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or abuse, our compassionate and professional team at Ocean Hills Recovery is here to help. We know that every person is unique, and work with you to design a custom treatment plan to best support your long-term success and sobriety.
Reach out today to learn more about our treatment options and services. We’re here to help you take back the life you deserve.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.