Effect of cocaine on coronary artery dimensions in atherosclerotic coronary artery disease: enhanced vasoconstriction at sites of significant stenoses

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1990 Jul;16(1):74-9. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(90)90459-3.


Cocaine increases myocardial oxygen demand and paradoxically decreases oxygen supply by reducing coronary blood flow. Such "inappropriate" vasoconstriction also occurs with exercise, which causes intense vasoconstriction of coronary artery segments narrowed by atherosclerosis. This study was done to assess the cocaine-induced change in vasomotor tone of diseased and nondiseased coronary artery segments. In 18 patients (15 men, 3 women, aged 35 to 67 years), coronary artery areas in diseased and nondiseased segments were quantitated before and 15 min after administration of intranasal saline solution (6 patients) or cocaine (2 mg/kg body weight) (12 patients). No variables changed after intake of the saline solution. In response to cocaine, the luminal areas of diseased and nondiseased segments decreased, but the magnitude of vasoconstriction was greater in the diseased segments (mean +/- SD 29 +/- 23% versus 13 +/- 8%, p less than 0.05). Thus, cocaine causes vasoconstriction of diseased and nondiseased coronary artery segments, but its effect is particularly marked in the former.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology*
  • Coronary Vessels / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vasoconstriction / drug effects*


  • Cocaine