Substance Abuse and Heart Disease Risks: Understanding the Connection

How does addiction affect the heart?

The link between substance abuse and heart disease is a critical issue that warrants deeper understanding and increased awareness. Substance abuse can severely impact both mental and physical health. However, a less-known yet equally important connection is its impact on the heart.

Research from The American Journal of Medicine has uncovered a significant link between substance abuse and heart disease. For instance, from 2005 to 2016, it was discovered that 15.2% of patients hospitalized for heart failure had also been diagnosed with substance abuse. The most commonly abused substances included methamphetamine, opioids, and alcohol.

So, how does addiction affect the heart? We will delve into this essential question in this MAT Care Clinics blog. We will examine the effects of substance abuse and heart disease, identify warning signs to be aware of, and discuss how to tackle these issues through appropriate substance abuse treatment.

Why Does Substance Abuse Lead to Heart Disease?

Substance abuse profoundly affects overall health and is a known risk factor for various cardiovascular conditions. Among the most significant issues are:

  • Hypertension: A condition that can precipitate critical complications like stroke, heart failure, and renal issues.
  • Coronary Artery Disease: This ailment arises when the coronary arteries struggle to deliver sufficient oxygen-rich blood, often due to narrowing from plaque accumulation linked to excessive substance use.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease: This disease occurs when plaque builds up in the peripheral arteries, hampering the flow of blood from the heart to other body parts.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This condition deteriorates the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood effectively, with alcohol abuse being a primary cause.
  • Infective Endocarditis: Injectable drug use can trigger this inflammation of the heart’s inner lining, leading to arrhythmias, blood clots, valve damage, or heart failure.
  • Arrhythmias: Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine can induce irregular heartbeats, which may result in severe outcomes like stroke or cardiac arrest if not addressed.
  • Strokes: Caused by a disruption in the brain’s oxygen supply due to a blockage or bleeding, strokes can lead to brain damage, disability, or death.
  • Myocardial Infarctions (Heart Attacks): These occur when the heart’s oxygen demand exceeds the supply, a situation exacerbated by certain substances that increase oxygen needs while reducing supply capacity.

Significant research, including studies by the Yale School of Medicine and the National Library of Medicine, has established a clear connection between substance use and heart disease. These investigations highlight that opioid use markedly elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease and contributes to adverse effects on vascular aging, heart rate variability, and coronary artery disease. These insights emphasize the critical need to treat substance dependence as a significant risk factor for heart health.

Why Does Substance Abuse Lead to Heart Disease?

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse and Heart Disease

Substance abuse can negatively affect heart cells in several ways, disrupting their regular operation, inducing inflammation, and elevating the risk of developing heart disease. It’s vital to recognize the following signs that may indicate heart disease:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, whether too slow or too fast
  • Elevated or reduced blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of lightheadedness
  • A sensation of fluttering in the chest (heart palpitations)
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Continuous coughing
  • Fever and chills without a clear cause
  • Intense headaches
  • Trouble lying flat without discomfort
  • Swelling in the abdomen, feet, or legs

These indicators could suggest significant heart issues, and a healthcare provider must address them as soon as possible. Individuals with a substance use disorder should be particularly vigilant for these symptoms, as the consumption of substances like alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and others can significantly heighten the likelihood of heart disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately seeking medical assistance is crucial for an accurate assessment and treatment plan. In situations involving severe symptoms, such as intense chest pain or profound difficulty breathing, it’s imperative to call 911 or head directly to an emergency room for immediate care.

Addressing Substance Abuse and Heart Disease

At a glance, it may seem that halting substance use is the straightforward solution to combat both substance abuse and heart disease. Yet, the situation is inherently more intricate. Both substance abuse and heart disease necessitate treatment as medical conditions by specialized healthcare professionals. Similar to how one would consult a cardiologist for heart disease, professional assistance is crucial in tackling substance use disorder.

Thankfully, a range of treatment options exists for substance dependence, from traditional therapies to contemporary, science-backed methods like medication-assisted treatment. Selecting the appropriate treatment strategy to combat substance dependence involves a personal choice, one that a healthcare professional’s guidance should inform.

It’s vital to recognize that recovery from substance abuse is a journey that requires time, with the initial step being critical to the healing process. Individuals grappling with substance dependence disorder can markedly lower their risk of heart disease by confronting their addiction and achieving sobriety. Each step individuals take towards this goal signifies progress towards a healthier, more rewarding life.

More About MAT Services

MAT Care Clinics: Your Partner in Recovery

Located in Nashua, New Hampshire, our medical clinic is the perfect starting point for your journey toward a substance-free life. At MAT Care Clinics, we boast a team of highly trained addiction treatment professionals. Medication-assisted treatment stands out as an exceptional choice for individuals who have found limited success with other methods.

Endorsed by the FDA and supported by scientific research, medication-assisted treatment is both safe and effective. It plays a significant role in mitigating withdrawal symptoms, which can otherwise impede our clients’ health and motivation during the recovery process.

Under the guidance of our specialists, you can reclaim a life free from substances, liberating yourself from the detrimental effects of opioids, alcohol, and other forms of substance abuse that compromise your overall well-being.

To schedule a consultation, please call (833) 622-0628 or contact us online. A healthy, substance-free future is possible, and we can help you achieve it!

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