Casual cocaine users at cardiac risk

A University of Sydney research team found social users had increased aortic stiffness, increased systolic blood pressure and greater left ventricular mass.

The research results were “alarming”, said Professor Gemma Figtree of Sydney Medical School, a senior author of the study.

Previously, most data on the effects of long-term cocaine use has been derived from small groups of addicts or abusers recruited through drug rehabilitation centres.

In the “addict” population, cocaine use is associated with myocardial fibrosis, impairment in both systolic and diastolic function and left ventricular hypertrophy. 

But the chronic effect of regular use by otherwise healthy social users has been more difficult to establish, Professor Figtree said.

In the Sydney study, the subjects were chosen to reflect the majority of cocaine users in Australia: young, mostly male, employed people from well-off areas who use