The use of cocaine may be associated with either acute or chronic toxicity, and approximately 5% to 10% of emergency department visits in the United States are believed to be secondary to cocaine usage. Chest pain is the most common cocaine-related medical problem, leading to the evaluation of approximately 64,000 patients annually for possible myocardial infarction, of which approximately 57% are admitted to the hospital, resulting in an annual cost greater than $83 million. There is a plethora of cocaine-related cardiovascular complications, including acute myocardial ischemia and infarction, arrhythmias, sudden death, myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, aortic ruptures, and endocarditis. There is no evidence to suggest that preexisting vascular disease is a prerequisite for the development of a cocaine-related cardiovascular event, although it may be a potentiating factor, as may be nicotine and alcohol.
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