An Insight into The Link Between Cocaine Use and Long-Term Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women


Cocaine is an extremely addictive stimulant drug made from the coca plant leaves native to South America. Although it can be used by healthcare professionals in the medical field for valid medical purposes, the recreational use of cocaine is illegal. As a street drug, people commonly use it to create an altered state of consciousness either for pleasure, to temporarily escape their reality, some other casual purpose, or pastime as it can alter the user’s perceptions, feelings, and emotions.

On the other hand, your heart might not be able to withstand cocaine. This potent stimulant medicine may stress your heart and blood vessels, putting extra strain on your cardiovascular system. Cocaine overdoses can be lethal; in certain circumstances, cocaine use can cause long-term heart problems. A recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine contributed to understanding how cocaine can impact cardiovascular complications by examining the association between cocaine use disorders and long-term cardiovascular morbidity in women. The study brought important findings that will be explored in this article.


According to a study, cardiovascular disease is a primary cause of death in women, but little attention is given to the adverse effect of illegal drugs on the cardiovascular system. It is said that the death of women resulting from substance use, including stimulants such as cocaine, is continuously increasing, which calls for further understanding of this association to come up with prevention and awareness measures befitting the said problem.

A report suggests that about 1 percent of adolescent girls and young women use cocaine. A study also stated that stimulant drugs such as cocaine could be very addictive and lead to cocaine disorder which has a crucial impact on women. Despite the prevalent use of cocaine among women of reproductive age and its significant contribution to substance-related mortality in young women, there is still a need for further research, especially on the impacts of cocaine on cardiovascular disease.

The medium and long-term cardiovascular risks of cocaine use are less understood, particularly among women. According to a 2018 study, women who use cocaine during pregnancy have greater risks of myocardial infarction and cardiac arrest during pregnancy and delivery. Pregnancy complications associated with cocaine use, such as premature delivery and placenta disorders, are also closely related to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. Defining these associations is crucial in crafting prevention and surveillance efforts for women.

Cocaine Use Disorders and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Women

After evaluating a large group of 1,296,463 women who gave birth, the study’s researchers found that 2954 women (0.2%) had a cocaine use disorder before or during their pregnancy. Other significant findings that may be gathered from the study include;

  • 42 percent of women with cocaine disorders used cocaine during pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women with cocaine use problems had higher odds of being under 25 years old, having more children, and living in poverty.
  • Women who have cocaine disorder even before pregnancy can have a history of mental illness and or other substance use disorders and live in rural areas.
  • Hospitalization rates for cardiovascular complications are higher among women with cocaine disorders than those without.
  • The risk of cardiovascular hospitalization was twice as high for women who used cocaine, whether alone or in combination with other drugs. This link was marginally less apparent for women who used other drugs besides cocaine.
  • At a 5 to 9-year follow-up, women with cocaine use disorders are more likely to require hospitalization for cardiovascular reasons, with 9 times the risk.
  • At 10 to 10 years of follow-up, women with cocaine use disorders remained at risk for several cardiovascular diseases.

In summary, women with cocaine use disorders are at greater risk of unfavorable cardiovascular outcomes, including inflammatory heart disease, cardiac arrest, valve disease, and arterial embolism. The study also shows that cocaine use may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the medium term.

The Need for Strategies and Interventions

Based on the facts presented above, it is safe to assume that a call for appropriate interventions is needed to address the increasing morbidities from substance abuse among women, especially the young ones.

Documentation and study of implications of cocaine to health over the life course should be improved to have a substantial amount of data to base the needed interventions with. Women may stop their cocaine use to protect their fetuses. Hence, interventions on halting drug use among women may be more effective during pregnancy and help prevent postpartum relapse. 

Pregnancy may be an ideal chance to screen for cocaine use and educate or counsel women regarding the overall health pregnancy implications that come with it. Additionally, there is a need for health professionals and public health practitioners to increase their awareness of the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in women with cocaine use disorders to guarantee that appropriate surveillance and clinical management will be provided.

Key Takeaway

Cocaine use is prevalent among young women, but its long-term cardiovascular effects are poorly understood. The need for a better understanding of cocaine use and cardiovascular conditions is crucial now more than ever with the continuous increase of death associated with it. Implementing measures that can help raise awareness of the adverse effects of cocaine use and prevent its prevalence should also be given more attention by authorities. Those affected should also take the initiative to help themselves by seeking the professional help they need. The first and foremost thing in improving overall health for cocaine users begins with abstaining, and this is only possible through their active initiative and participation.

Journal Reference

Ukah, U. V., Potter, B. J., Paradis, G., Low, N., Ayoub, A., & Auger, N. (2022). Cocaine and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in women. The American Journal of Medicine, 135(8). 

Related Content
© 2023 KellySearch