addiction detox

What Is the Impact of Drugs on the Heart?

The three entities that can cause significant harm to cardiovascular health are lack of exercise, poor sleep, and poor diet. Even though the three above-mentioned factors can pose a huge threat to an individual’s heart, drug use can present more danger for a person’s overall cardiovascular health. Drugs cause permanent damage to an individual’s heart. Today it will be discussed how do drugs affect the heart and the signs of heart damage from drugs.

Heart Health and Drugs


Researchers who have diligently researched Nicotine have discovered that Nicotine by itself doesn’t result in an overwhelming cardiovascular health risk. However, non-combusted Nicotine does cause adverse effects on the heart, which is one of the main reasons why doctors recommend that their patients who are at risk for heart disease avoid Nicotine altogether. On the other hand, cigarettes are undoubtedly bad for the heart. 

Chronic smoking leads to the following:

  • Less good cholesterol (elevated LDL levels)
  • Thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
  • Increased fat in the blood (triglycerides)
  • Blood vessel cell damage
  • Increased blood clot risk
  • Increased plaque buildup


Even though alcohol is more famous for the effect it has on an individual’s liver, it has also been linked to heart condition development and poor heart health. There was an analytic study performed in California health records that discovered links between 3 major heart conditions and alcohol abuse. 

Myocardial Infarction (MI) 

This is another term for heart attack. MI typically occurs when a blood clot completely blocks the blood flow to the heart. This condition can be fatal if left untreated. 

It is the impairment of blood flow to some part of the heart, which can result in extensive damage to the cardiac muscle along with many other tissues due to oxygen starvation. They may manifest as pain in the chest area. In stark decreases heart function that lasts for several minutes. This might climax as the following:

  • Extreme discomfort or tightness in the chest
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death in severe cases

There are several cases of myocardial infarction that accumulated over time due to the effects of other conditions such as coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. As time goes on, it eventually results in cumulative cardiac damage to an extent that the symptoms are noticeable enough to become evident as a heart attack. 


Atherosclerosis involves plaque formation and typically results in vessel hardening, also known as sclerosis along a person’s interior walls of arteries. Atheromatous plaque is composed mostly of blood proteins and cholesterol. The proteins include low-density lipoprotein that facilitates cholesterol into arteries introduction, but don’t exactly remove it. 

This type of condition can occur due to the consumption of unhealthy foods such as foods that are in high fats or sugars. There are some cases of atherosclerosis that are related also to genetic disorders such as familial hypercholesteremia. If atherosclerosis results in a point that the artery is completely blocked by cholesterol plaques, this can result in substantial blood flow interruptions through the same vessels. 

The adverse effects that atherosclerosis is associated with are the following:

  • Increased risks of heart disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Stroke

Peripheral Artery Disease

This condition is similar to coronary artery disease, in which a person’s artery is located away from the heart. It’s typically in an extremity in which it is obstructed. It can also lead to death or ischemia in the affected tissues and is also related to atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease can result in discomfort (claudication) and pain in the affected areas. It might be detected by the development of cyanosis and blueness in the extremities. 

Congestive Heart Failure (HF)

This term refers to the inability of a person’s heart to pump blood to all other parts of the body correctly. Diastolic CHF is characterized by the left ventricle stiffening, which limits the amount of blood that can enter and also leave the body properly. Increased fat, (LDL) is present in the blood.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

A quivering or irregular heartbeat can persuade an individual’s body to stroke, heart failure, blood clotting, and much more. All three of the disorders named are linked with alcohol abuse. They are the perfect example of how drugs affect the heart. 

Each disorder poses a serious risk and should not be taken lightly. The popularity and prevalence of alcohol in modern American society, including the approach some American subcultures, praise binge drinking. It can clear the way for diseases like these to occur. 


Cocaine is most likely the drug best known for its damaging effects on a person’s heart. As an individual digests Cocaine, an arrangement of developed effects might result in one or more serious medical emergencies. The more an individual engages in Cocaine use, the higher their chance is for the above-mentioned events to occur. This is particularly true for the user that is already predisposed to cardiac problems. 

  • Decreased coronary artery diameter (smaller arteries around the heart)
  • Decreased coronary blood flow
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate 

Cocaine is also related to several cardiovascular diseases:

  • QT prolongation which is an increased time between heartbeats
  • Endothelial dysfunction: which is damage to blood vessel cells
  • Microvascular disease: shrinking of the arteries
  • Atherosclerosis: plaque buildup in the arteries
  • Arrhythmia: irregular heartbeat
  • Thrombosis: blood clots

With all the harmful effects on the heart, it’s no surprise that Cocaine has a well-deserved reputation. Many of the events below can lead to death if an individual is unaware that their substance use disorder (SUD) is harming one of the most important organs in their body. 

Unfortunately, diseases such as these can lead to serious cardiac events such as:

  • Infections in the heart associated with Cocaine
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Congestive failure
  • Tearing arteries
  • Weak pumping


This is also an obstructive cardiovascular condition, in which the coagulation or blood vessel abnormal levels results in large clot formation within the blood vessels. Clotting is the natural response of an individual body that has blood loss. It occurs in tissues to prevent this. However, the abnormal or disproportionate blood protein expression might result in thrombosis.  

Illicit and Prescription Opioids

The well-known opioid epidemic has spread prescription opioids throughout the United States. Individuals from everyday life find themselves from every walk of life addicted to prescription opioids. The largest opioid use disorder risk is undergoing an overdose, but it’s far from the only risk. 

Opioid research surrounding the impact on an individual’s heart discovered that they contribute to an individual’s likelihood of struggling with arterial fibrillation. Due to the widespread usage of these medications, researchers have worried that a rise in the incidence of AF can occur throughout the United States. Now that prescription pills are now linked to heart issues, injection-based drug use is known to be the cause of serious heart issues as well. 

One of the most unforgettable cardiac complications is the occurrence of bacterial infection in the heart. Infections occur often within the values of the heart as bacteria, fungi, and other germs from the injection site that circulates through an individual’s body’s blood vessels.

If it’s too late for an antibiotic treatment, an intravenous Heroin individual might have to have their infected valves restored or replaced. Once restored, the valves will be even more prone to infection and might require further replacement surgeries especially if the patient’s SUD isn’t properly managed. Many doctors are beginning to lose patience for patients that receive several heart surgeries while making a small effort to fight their injection habits. 


Even though opioids absorb the majority of public attention surrounding drugs in the US, methamphetamine usage is growing gradually. Researchers that examine methamphetamine, also known as meth, and its effects on a person’s body, have discovered that heart disease is the second-largest killer of individuals who engage in meth use behind accidental overdose. Similar to alcohol, meth causes a variety of heart issues if it’s abused. 

  • Systolic cardiomyopathy, which weakens an individual’s walls of their heart’s pumping chambers and makes it more challenging to supply the body effectively with blood
  • Thickening and narrowing of blood vessels surrounding a person’s body, especially their lungs 
  • Increased plaque leading to a possible heart attack and coronary artery disease
  • An increased likelihood of arrhythmia 

Meth use can lead to death through overdose, but it also takes a heavy toll on an individual’s heart health. When a person engages in Meth and Heroin use, an extensive list of health risks are created. These health risks can be avoided or minimized if help is desired beforehand.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is the stenosis or narrowing of major arteries feeding an individual’s heart with blood. Often it is related to atherosclerosis but not always. Coronary artery disease is the common cause of congestive heart failure and heart attack. 

This condition results in the capability of the heart pumping blood to be significantly reduced often. It can be known as many other names such as coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease. Similarly, for too many other cardiovascular conditions, the development of coronary artery disease might also have a genetic component for some of the patients. 


Cardiomyopathy describes irregular or damaged myocardium or heart muscle. It might contribute to the conditions discussed above. There are several types of cardiomyopathy including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or dilated cardiomyopathy. This disorder can be associated with several risk factors, even genetics. 

What Are Signs of Heart Damage From Drugs?

There are many signs of heart damage from drugs. 

The less frequently observed, but more severe acute cardiovascular methamphetamine complications are the following:

  • Sudden cardiac death 
  • Acute aortic dissection
  • Acute myocardial infarction

The most widely reported adverse cardiovascular methamphetamine’s effects are the following:

Keep Your Heart Healthy at Coastal Detox

If you or a loved one is asking yourself, “How do drugs affect the heart,” know that there are various signs of heart damage from drugs. The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. Before matters escalate to such an extent, contact us today to get started on treatment.