No such thing as safe cocaine: Health experts
London: The image of cocaine as a "safe party drug" is a myth that must be dispelled, according to researchers.
They warned there is no `safe` amount of cocaine to use, citing their study which found that up to 3 per cent of all sudden deaths are linked to the drug.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, analysed a series of post-mortem reports in south-west Spain, where toxicology tests are routinely carried out after any
violent or unexpected deaths.
Out of 668 sudden deaths reported during the three-year study period, 21 (3.1 per cent) were found to be related to cocaine use; all occurred in men aged between 21
and 45. In 17 of the cases the death related to problems with the heart and its related systems.
Lead researcher Joaquin Lucena from the Institute of Legal Medicine in Seville, said many of the fatal cases showed premature signs of heart disease, such as furred-up blood
vessels, although only 11 of the people were obese, Times online reported.
"Any amount of the drug can be considered to have the potential for toxicity due to the fact that some patients have poor outcomes with relatively low blood concentrations".
Fotini Rozakeas, from the British Heart Foundation, said the research should dispel the myth that cocaine is a "safe party drug".
"The reality is that there are risks every time you use it. Cocaine can have devastating effects on the user including heart attacks, life-threatening heart rhythms,
strokes and even sudden death," Rozakeas said.
"The potential deadly consequences from cocaine use can happen to anyone who takes it even in previously young healthy people with no history of heart disease".Ethanol, the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic drinks, enhances the "high" obtained from cocaine while minimising the subsequent "low".
However, both smoking and alcohol are associated with heart disease.Lucena said, "The combination of cocaine with either or both of these habits can be considered as a lethal cocktail that promotes the development of premature heart disease".