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Is Cocaine a Blood Thinner?

Written by Maureen McNulty

& Medically Reviewed by Rob Alston

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Cocaine is a drug that impacts the body in many ways. Using cocaine increases heart rate and body temperature, causes a loss of appetite and can lead to erratic, sometimes violent behavior. Given the physiological effects of cocaine on the body, some might think of cocaine as a blood thinner. However, it is not.

How Cocaine Affects Blood Flow

Cocaine use makes the blood thicker by causing more blood-clotting proteins to become present in the body. Therefore, the chances of complications such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke are increased in people who use cocaine.

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High Blood Pressure

Cocaine use causes blood vessels to tighten, increasing the overall pressure within the blood vessels. Even at low doses, cocaine can cause spikes in blood pressure. At higher doses, cocaine can even make the blood vessels burst.

When these blood pressure problems are combined with the other cardiac effects of cocaine such as changes in heart rate and decreased oxygen in the blood, the overall result is that someone is more likely to have heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and heart disease. High blood pressure from cocaine use can also affect other parts of the body. For example, it can cause the spleen to burst or lead to bleeding in the lungs.

Heart Attack

People who use cocaine are more likely to have heart attacks. This is especially true for people who already have heart problems like high blood pressure and for people who smoke. Some studies have also shown that heart attacks from cocaine are more likely to result in sudden death.

Brain Damage

Brain damage from cocaine use can happen when there is bleeding in the brain. Blood vessels normally deliver oxygen to brain cells. If a blood vessel bursts and starts bleeding inside the brain, the blood vessel can no longer properly transport oxygen to all of the cells that need it.

Additionally, if blood builds up in the brain, it can raise the amount of physical pressure put on the brain. Both of these things can cause damage to brain cells.

Further, cocaine can cause severe brain bleeds which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. People who have brain bleeds after using cocaine fare worse than those who have brain bleeds from other causes; they are 2.7 times more likely to die when they have a brain bleed caused by cocaine.

Stroke

Another complication caused by cocaine use is the chance of having a stroke, which can lead to vision problems, difficulty talking, memory loss, paralysis, and death. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. This can happen either from a blood clot or from a brain bleed. One study found that people who had used cocaine within the last 24 hours were 6.4 times more likely to have a stroke.

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Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction

If you are worried about your ability to control how much cocaine you use, know that cocaine addiction treatment can help. The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers inpatient and outpatient rehab programs as well as different counseling and educational services that can help you quit using cocaine. Talk to one of our team members today to learn more about how we can help.

Sources

Cheng, Yu-Ching; et al. “Cocaine use and risk of ischemic stroke in young adults.” Stroke, March 10, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Ghimire, Subash; et al. “Cocaine-induced diffuse alveolar hemorrhage: A case report and review of the literature.” Rhode Island Medical Journal, August 2016. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Hobbs, William E.; et al. “Cocaine and specific cocaine metabolites induce von Willebrand Factor release from endothelial cells in a tissue-specific manner.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, March 28, 2013. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Khan, Aysha N.; et al. “Cocaine-induced splenic rupture.” Journal of Surgical Case Reports, March 2017. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Kim, Sung Tae; Park, Taehwan. “Acute and Chronic Effects of Cocaine on Cardiovascular Health.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, January 29, 2019. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Martin-Schild, Sheryl; et al. “Intracerebral hemorrhage in cocaine users.” Stroke, April 2010. Accessed September 25, 2019.

View Sources

Cheng, Yu-Ching; et al. “Cocaine use and risk of ischemic stroke in young adults.” Stroke, March 10, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Ghimire, Subash; et al. “Cocaine-induced diffuse alveolar hemorrhage: A case report and review of the literature.” Rhode Island Medical Journal, August 2016. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Hobbs, William E.; et al. “Cocaine and specific cocaine metabolites induce von Willebrand Factor release from endothelial cells in a tissue-specific manner.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, March 28, 2013. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Khan, Aysha N.; et al. “Cocaine-induced splenic rupture.” Journal of Surgical Case Reports, March 2017. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Kim, Sung Tae; Park, Taehwan. “Acute and Chronic Effects of Cocaine on Cardiovascular Health.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, January 29, 2019. Accessed September 25, 2019.

Martin-Schild, Sheryl; et al. “Intracerebral hemorrhage in cocaine users.” Stroke, April 2010. Accessed September 25, 2019.

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