Long-term cocaine use is associated with increased coronary plaque burden–a pilot study

Doris Hsinyu Chen, Márton Kolossváry, Shaoguang Chen, Hong Lai, Hsin Chieh Yeh, Shenghan Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is a lack of research regarding whether prolonged use of cocaine would lead to increase of coronary plaque burden. Objectives: To study the effects of cocaine use on the coronary artery plaque volume. We hypothesize the longer the cocaine use, the greater the plaque burden. Methods: We used coronary computed tomography angiography to evaluate plaque volumes. The study included chronic (N = 33 with 27 HIV+) and non-cocaine users (N = 15 with 12 HIV+). Chronic cocaine use was defined as use by any route for at least 6 months, administered at least 4 times/month. The Student’s t-test was used to compare the plaque volumes between chronic and non-cocaine users. Multivariable regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, HIV status, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and total cholesterol was performed to determine the relationship between years of cocaine use and plaque volumes. Results: The total plaque volumes between groups showed no difference (p = .065). However, the total left anterior descending artery (LAD) plaque volume in the chronic cocaine group was significantly higher than that in the non-cocaine group (p = .047). For each year increase in cocaine use, total plaque volume and total LAD plaque volume increased by 7.23 mm3 (p = .013) and 4.56 mm3 (p = .001), respectively. In the multivariable analyses, both total plaque volume and total LAD plaque volume were significantly associated with years of cocaine use (p = .039 and 0.013, respectively). Conclusion: Prolonged cocaine use accelerates the development of sub-clinical atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-811
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cocaine use
  • HIV infection
  • coronary artery plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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