Regular cocaine use may be responsible for 1-in-4 non-fatal heart attacks in young people, study finds

January 28, 2001

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One quarter of non-fatal heart attacks among persons under the age of 45 in the United States can be attributed to regular cocaine use, scientists at the University at Buffalo's Toshiba Stroke Research Center have found. The study findings appear in the January issue of Circulation.

Lead author Adnan I. Qureshi, M.D., UB assistant professor of neurosurgery, and colleagues found an association between frequent cocaine use and heart attack in this age group, but not between cocaine use and stroke.

"These findings indicate that changing behavior surrounding cocaine use, through public awareness and education, may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in younger persons," Qureshi said.

Previous researchers had reported cases of heart attack and stroke in persons who had used cocaine within the previous hour. Given the increase in cocaine use among young adults in the U.S., the UB researchers undertook an extensive investigation of the possible relationship. Researchers aren't sure how cocaine might increase the chances of having a nonfatal heart attack or stroke, Qureshi said. "We know that cocaine use increases the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine at nerve terminals, which in turn increases heart rate, ventricular contraction and the heart's demand for oxygen.

"Cocaine may also constrict blood vessels and increase platelet aggregation. In addition, it has been shown to accelerate arteriosclerosis in young patients. Since regular, but not infrequent, use of cocaine was associated with an increased risk in our study, our results seem to support this latter mechanism," he said.

The researchers used data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) in their analysis. NHANES III was conducted between 1988 and 1994 by the Centers for Disease Control to estimate the prevalence of chronic disease in the U.S. population and identify factors that place persons at risk of developing chronic health problems. It involved 40,000 persons two months of age or older. For the first time since these national surveys began, participants between the ages of 18 and 59 were asked about lifetime cocaine use.

For their analysis of the association with heart attack and stroke risk, UB researchers limited their study population to the 18-45 age group, which captured all but 25 cocaine users and resulted in a study base of 10,085. The study group was divided into three "user groups:" never, infrequent, and frequent, which included anyone reporting using the drug from 10 to more than 100 times. The survey also contained data on prevalence of non-fatal stroke or heart attack.

Analysis showed that 532 persons, or about 1 in 20, 67 percent of whom were men, reported using cocaine regularly. To estimate the impact of the drug on non-fatal heart attack or stroke, the researchers calculated the percent of population-attributable risk -- the portion of disease that would be eliminated if the exposure, use of cocaine in this case, were removed.

In general, regular users of cocaine were at nearly seven times the risk of having a non-fatal heart attack than non-users, results showed. The population-attributable risk was 25 percent, indicating that in this age group, one in four non-fatal heart attacks would not have occurred if there had been no cocaine use in the group.

There was no relationship between cocaine use and non-fatal stroke.
Additional researchers on the study were M. Fareed K. Suri, M.D.; Lee R. Guterman, Ph.D., and L. Nelson Hopkins, M.D., all of the UB Department of Neurosurgery and the Toshiba Stroke Research Center.

University at Buffalo

Related Heart Attack Articles from Brightsurf:

Top Science Tip Sheet on heart failure, heart muscle cells, heart attack and atrial fibrillation results
Newly discovered pathway may have potential for treating heart failure - New research model helps predict heart muscle cells' impact on heart function after injury - New mass spectrometry approach generates libraries of glycans in human heart tissue - Understanding heart damage after heart attack and treatment may provide clues for prevention - Understanding atrial fibrillation's effects on heart cells may help find treatments - New research may lead to therapy for heart failure caused by ICI cancer medication

Molecular imaging identifies link between heart and kidney inflammation after heart attack
Whole body positron emission tomography (PET) has, for the first time, illustrated the existence of inter-organ communication between the heart and kidneys via the immune system following acute myocardial infarction.

Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack
An immune cell is shown for the first time to be involved in creating the scar that repairs the heart after damage.

Heart cells respond to heart attack and increase the chance of survival
The heart of humans and mice does not completely recover after a heart attack.

A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.

Mount Sinai discovers placental stem cells that can regenerate heart after heart attack
Study identifies new stem cell type that can significantly improve cardiac function.

Fixing a broken heart: Exploring new ways to heal damage after a heart attack
The days immediately following a heart attack are critical for survivors' longevity and long-term healing of tissue.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

How the heart sends an SOS signal to bone marrow cells after a heart attack
Exosomes are key to the SOS signal that the heart muscle sends out after a heart attack.

Read More: Heart Attack News and Heart Attack Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to