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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cocaine's Effects

NEW YORK -- Harvard scientists have identified two nasty heart-damaging and potentially life-threatening effects that explain why users are at risk for heart disease and stroke every time they take cocaine.

The findings, reported Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, provide a biological explanation of how cocaine puts people at risk. Doctors estimate that cocaine-related emergency room visits for chest pain are a major problem.

Conducted by Arthur Siegel, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of internal medicine at McLean Hospital in Belmont, the study of 21 volunteers who ingested cocaine found that cocaine helps trigger blood clot formation.

The researchers found that cocaine causes constriction of the spleen, which meant the spleen had infused new blood cells into the blood vessels, increasing the risk of thrombosis or clotting.