Drug addiction not only alters how your brain functions, it can also have a negative impact on your body as well, contributing to conditions such as liver, kidney and heart disease. The cardiovascular system in particular is very susceptible to damage from drug use. Your heart pumps blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, but also transports drugs as well.
Those drugs can end up increasing or decreasing your heart rate, causing arrhythmias, damaging arteries and vessels and weakening or thickening the heart muscles. All of these conditions contribute to cardiovascular disease, or diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Certain drugs affect the heart differently:
- Cocaine can cause irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stiffening of the arteries and thickening of the heart muscle walls. In turn, this puts people at greater risk for a heart attack because their heart is not pumping as effectively as it should.
- Heroin can lead to collapsed veins and increased risk of blood infections when injected. These infections can travel to the heart. Contaminants in the heroin can also clog up blood vessels.
- Steroids can increase risk of heart attack and enlargement of left ventricle of the heart. They can also increase bad cholesterol levels in turn clogging arteries, restricting blood flow and causing the heart to work harder to pump blood. Blood clots can also damage the heart and lead to stroke or heart attack.
Other drugs can also take a toll on the heart. It is important to maintain better heart health through eating a well-balanced diet, engaging in moderate daily exercise, managing stress, and keeping blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol under control. If drug use is an issue, seeking treatment for addiction can also promote better cardiovascular health. A recovery program will not only equip you with strategies to support better physical health, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well so you can begin healing your whole body and mind.