Cocaine Knock-Out in Europe

31. March 2010
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Three percent of all sudden cardiac deaths in Spain are the result of cocaine consumption. Now medical professionals hypothesize: This figure obviously is applicable to the entire EU. According to latest evaluations, 12 million European snort the drug.

From cardiologists and registered physicians these study results require a rethink – until now the question whether the patient takes cocaine is not part of the common anamnesis in a doctor’s office. But exactly that seems to be indicated: Joaquin Lucena, chief of forensic pathology in Sevilla/Spain states that exactly 3.1 percent of all sudden cardiac deaths can be explained with a previous consumption of cocaine of the deceased. “Our results show that cocaine causes changes in arteries and the heart”, explains the Spanish physician. Mind you: the concentration of the drug in blood and urine of the deceased was between 0.1 and 1.15 mg/L. Then Lucena took a closer look at the values. Not the dosage itself seems to make the poison but the coke per se. Even the smallest amount of the substance is able to – depending on physique, age and general shape of the patient – damage just the same like high cocaine concentrations, as Lucena revealed by means of the blood values of his clients. Particularly smokers are hit by the white snow death since about 81 percent of the autopsied had had a last smoke right after taking cocaine.

No less lethal is another vice: Also alcohol after taking the drug ferries the drug addicts onto Lucena’s table. Obviously nicotine and ethanol trigger the rogue impact of cocaine – Lucena cannot explain though the ‘why‘ yet.

A whole lot more dramatic read those morbid findings in another context. According to Lucena, there is no reason to think that the effect of cocaine in England, Italy or anywhere else in Europe might be any different than under Spain’s sunny sky. About 7.5 million Europeans in the age between 15 and 34 are part of the threatened class – and in this age group alone more than 230,000 people could die of a sudden cardiac death, as Lucena states, and without their physicians being aware of this correlation. And if you gross up the victims to the estimated 12 million cocaine users within the European Union, the drug carries off even more than 370,000 people – and the reason camouflaged as sudden cardiac death.

This aspect is brand new in its dramatics

Until now physicians knew and reported that people taking a lot of cocaine have a 7-times higher risk for a non-deadly myocardial infarction. Also the report published by the EU attests that “approximately a quarter of the non-deadly myocardial infarctions in the age group 18 to 45 can be put in relation with high cocaine consumption”, name of the publication: 2009 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe. But the pathologist ups the ante – and outs cocaine for the first time as a lethal destroyer of arteries and hearts. Thus physicians with their own practice would have to get ready for a new anamnesis which might be difficult. “Are you taking coke?” instead of “Do you smoke?” as an introductory question might save one or the other patient from an early death.

Hoping that the problem might solve itself by containment of drug consumption seems like an illusion. The annual report 2007 of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction caused to surmise bad and worse. The figures reveal: The cocaine abuse increases significantly. So a lot of work is waiting for pathologist Lucena in the future: The amount of cocaine registered and confiscated in 2007 in Europe alone was 107 tons which is more than 45 percent higher than the previous year.

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MD Marcin Mlotek
MD Marcin Mlotek

We lack the real anti-coke campaign by the public AND private media – like MTV and so on. Addressed also to the youngsters before they start to think that they are teenagers.

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