How Cocaine Affects the Heart [with Video] | Rehab 4 Addiction

How Cocaine Affects the Heart

A recent video released onto the Internet reveals in gruesome detail the negative effects cocaine consumption has on the human heart. The heart in the below video has swollen up over three times its normal size. The video was uploaded by the non-profit organisation Medspiration with the patients’ consent. The patient is said to be have been a long-term cocaine addict for more than fifteen years.

Watch the video below:


The heart continues to beat for a massive 25 minutes after dissection. Following dissection, a healthy heart typically beats for just 60 seconds.

It is thought the troubled heart’s owner received a full transplant.

Dr Klaus Witte of Leeds Infirmary told Rehab 4 Addiction the reason for the heart’s prolonged beating. He claims the heart continues to beat because the patient was pumped with medication to keep him or her alive. Dr Wittle also points out the heart does not pump in a ‘co-ordinated manner’ and so the heart ‘would not sustain human life.’

How cocaine damages the heart

Cocaine is highly toxic to the human heart. Cocaine damages the heart’s structure and that of the surrounding arteries and capillaries. Cocaine thickens the heart’s muscles and causes swelling as demonstrated in the above video. This swelling may lead to a sudden heart attack, even weeks after the psychoactive effects of cocaine have worn off. Other potential complications include heart disease and stroke.

Cocaine prevents the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter ‘norepinephrine’ in neurons located throughout the nervous system. Excess norepinephrine increases the sympathetic nervous activity leading to stronger contractions in the heart muscles. Both the heart rate and blood pressure rise to dangerous levels. Since capillaries are constricted by this action, the heart must work harder to receive the blood. Cocaine also promotes clotting of the blood. Therefore cocaine thickens the blood and makes it more ‘sticky’. The heart must thus work harder in order to pump the blood around the body.

The above factors have led to cocaine being termed the ‘heart attack drug’. This is because cocaine does the exact opposite of drugs designed to prevent a heart attack.

Dr Witte of Leeds Infirmary told Rehab 4 Addiction: ‘An analogy is, if you take a car and drive it faster and faster it will burn out quicker. The wear and tear on a car won’t be visible at the beginning. But the long term damage on that engine is irreversible.’

The below video illustrates a live human heart during a cocaine overdose:


The American Heart Association says 15,000 deaths occur in the US each year as a result of cocaine use. In the United Kingdom, the Office of National Statistics reports 200 cocaine related deaths occurred in 2009.

If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine addiction, be sure to contact Rehab 4 Addiction. With cocaine rehab centres throughout the United Kingdom, our advisors will find a suitable treatment centre near you.