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March 01, 2008
image of an EKG screen

Long-term regular cocaine abuse impairs cardiac left ventricular function in African-Americans, say NIDA-funded researchers Dr. Shenghan Lai and colleagues at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Magnetic resonance imaging of heart muscle contractions disclosed lower pumping efficiency in areas of the left ventricular wall among 32 African-Americans who abused cocaine compared with 14 nonabusers. The study participants, men and women aged 25 to 54, were all in good health with no signs of heart disease; the findings suggest that prolonged exposure to the drug may cause subclinical impairment that increases risk for cardiac events. Acute cocaine abuse has previously been associated with several cardiac complications, including arrhythmia, ruptured aorta, heart attack, and sudden death.

American Journal of Cardiology 97(7):1085-1088, 2006. [Abstract]

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