Drug abuse can cause irreparable harm to the human body, but sometimes it’s hard to understand the extent of that damage since there’s no way for us to see what’s going on underneath the surface of our skin.
A recent video uploaded to Instagram by Medspiration shows the effect cocaine has on the heart after excessive drug use. In the graphic video, a heart swollen to three times its normal size after it was removed from a patient who used cocaine for 15 years.
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This is a rare look at an explanted heart immediately following removal from a patient! This heart suffered from a dilated cardiomyopathy (it was more than 3 times the size of a normal heart!). The medical student who sent us this video said that the heart continued to beat for over 25 minutes outside of the body! Loss of cardiomyocyte contractility (heart-beat) normally occurs within 60 seconds after the onset of total ischemia (complete lack of oxygen). This heart’s inability to stop contracting may be due to the adaptation the heart cells underwent due to long term cocaine abuse. Cocaine consumption causes a dramatic rise in heart rate while also decreasing coronary bloodflow due to adrenergic vasoconstriction of the vessels. This means the heart receives less bloodflow & less oxygen despite the increase in physical workload (this increased workload contributes to the expanding size of the heart also). This phenomenon leads to partial myocardial ischemia every single time the patient abuses the drug! It is possible that this heart had become SO adapted to myocardial ischemia over the past 15 years that it became resilient enough to beat without an oxygen supply for 25 minutes! This is a great reminder to stay away from illicit drugs & it is an incredible example of how adaptive the human body is! #MEDspiration Written by: Student Doctor @navbadesha Video credit: this video was sent to us by a medical student! TAG SOMEONE WHO WOULD LOVE THIS KNOWLEDGE!
“First of all, make no mistake, this heart is not beating in a coordinated fashion. It wouldn’t support life,” Dr Klaus Witte, a consultant cardiologist at Leeds General Infirmary, told the MailOnline. “This heart, it’s not beating. Those are not normal contractions. It’s twitching in a desperate way.”
According to WedMD, Cocaine is responsible for more emergency room visits than any other illegal drug and can have a horribly detrimental effect on the heart. As stated on their site, “Cocaine is bad for the heart. Cocaine increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The result interrupts blood flow to the heart muscle itself, which can cause a heart attack, even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also trigger potentially deadly abnormal heart rhythms (called arrhythmias)..”
If this Medspiration video is any indication, we’d say that, yes, cocaine is clearly very bad for the heart.
This post was originally published on August 27, 2016.