These Aren’t For the Faint of Heart
We’ve all heard the horror stories of what cocaine can do to our bodies. Things like perforated septums, sudden heart attacks, abscesses due to missed injections, and everything associated with smoking crack are common talk about among recovering addicts.
Well it looks like two more topics are about to be added to our conversations. According to two recent articles, palatal perforation and a gruesome heart condition can also be caused by extended cocaine use.
Both stories come from the UK, which has long been a hotbed of cocaine use, abuse, and addiction…certainly no more than the United States though. So, while us U.S. residents may take some small relief in the fact that these are English issues, for now, we can’t celebrate too much.
Read on to learn about the disturbing new physical side effects of long-term cocaine addiction.
A Hole in the Roof of Your Mouth
Palatal perforation is exactly what it sounds like – developing a hole in the roof of your mouth.
While heavy cocaine use has long been associated with contributing to holes in our nasal cavities, palatal perforation is a relatively new phenomenon.
Actually, that’s not 100% true. It may have been around for a long time, but is only coming to our attention now. We don’t know because this condition has a lot of stigma associated with it.
Think about it like this – if you develop a perforated palate due to cocaine abuse, you’re going to have significant trouble drinking, speaking, and eating. That’s fairly embarrassing and probably not something you’re going to be keen to speak about.
How does someone develop a hole in the roof of their mouth? Well, it all has to do with cocaine’s vasoconstriction properties. This is when cocaine actually constricts and shrinks blood vessels, which, ironically, is what makes it an incredibly effective local anesthetic.
When cocaine cuts off the supply of blood to a certain area, say the roof of your mouth, it also deprives that area of oxygen. This, in turn, causes tissue to begin to shrink and die.
Over time, this leads to a hole in the area in question.
Okay, that’s more than a little disturbing. Still, it’s nothing compared to what’s next.
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An Enlarged & Still Beating Heart
What to know what 15 years of heavy cocaine abuse does to your heart? Then watch this
video. A quick warning though – it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s as disturbing as anything we’ve ever seen.
Okay, recovered yet? Let’s explore just what was going on there.
First, the heart was around three times as large as a normal, healthy heart. That alone is alarming. Doctors are theorizing the increase in size is due to, once again, cocaine’s vasoconstriction properties.
Basically, because cocaine constricts blood vessels, the heart has to work harder than ever to pump and supply the body with blood. This may have led it to grow over many years.
Okay, next is the fact that the heart beats for 25 minutes after being removed from the user’s body. A healthy heart is expected to beat for up to one minute after being removed. This one beat for 25 times that long.
The CEO of MEDspiration, a “non-profit organisation specialising in the art of medicine and science” and the company that produced the video, thinks the prolonged beating may be thanks “to the adaptation the heart cells underwent due to long-term cocaine abuse.”
He goes on to explain,
“It is possible that this heart had become so adapted to myocardial ischemia [reduced blood flow to the heart] over the past 15 years that it became resilient enough to beat without an oxygen supply for 25 minutes!” (Mirror)
That’s some scary stuff!
I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful neither of these happened to me. I’ve been in recovery for a bit over seven years. Before that, I used cocaine frequently.
I could have developed either palatal perforation or done significant damage to my heart. I didn’t. Thank God for that.
What do you think of these two new conditions? Let us know on social media.