Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Silent myocardial damage in cocaine addicts
  1. Giovanni Donato Aquaro1,
  2. Alessandra Gabutti1,
  3. Milo Meini2,
  4. Concetta Prontera1,
  5. Emilio Pasanisi1,
  6. Claudio Passino3,
  7. Michele Emdin1,
  8. Massimo Lombardi1
  1. 1U.O. Risonanza Magnetica and U.O Malattie cardiovascolari, Fondazione G.Monasterio Regione Toscana CNR, Pisa, Italy
  2. 2Azienda USL 5, Pisa, Italy
  3. 3Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giovanni Donato Aquaro, Fondazione G. Monasterio Regione Toscana—CNR, Via Giuseppe Moruzzi 1, 56124 Pisa, Italy; aquaro{at}


Background Cocaine addiction is associated with either ischaemic or non-ischaemic cardiac complications. The prevalence of myocardial damage in asymptomatic addicts has never been evaluated by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), which allows non-invasive detection of myocardial oedema and fibrosis.

Objective To prospectively evaluate the prevalence of myocardial damage in cocaine addicts with no history of cardiac disease by CMR.

Methods Thirty consecutive subjects (25 men, mean age 39±7 years), with no history of cardiac symptoms/disease were evaluated 48 h after the withdrawal of cocaine by a comprehensive humoral, clinical and instrumental assessment, including B-type natriuretic peptide and troponin I assay, echocardiography, exercise stress test and 24 h ECG recording, as well as CMR examination. The CMR study was performed using a 1.5 Tesla scanner. Myocardial oedema was evaluated by a T2-weighted STIR sequence and fibrosis using the late gadolinium enhancement technique.

Results Biohumoral markers of cardiac involvement were negative in all subjects except one. Fifteen subjects had subtle abnormalities at resting ECG, while exercise stress testing and Holter studies were negative for ischaemic or arrhythmic events. Echocardiography provided evidence of wall motion abnormalities in 12 subjects. At CMR evaluation, myocardial involvement was detected in 25 subjects (83%), oedema in 14 (47%) and fibrosis in 22 (73%). Eleven subjects (37%) showed both myocardial oedema and fibrosis with similar localisations in nine. Seven subjects had ischaemic patterns of fibrosis and 15 had non-ischaemic patterns of fibrosis.

Conclusions A high prevalence of cardiac damage in asymptomatic cocaine addicts can be found by CMR examination.

  • MRI
  • epidemiology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • See Editorial, p 1995

  • GDA and ME contributed equally to this study.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. In the ‘Population’ section of the ‘RESULTS’, on the fifth line of the first paragraph, the sentence “street cocaine daily consumption was 5.4±7.1 g.” has been corrected to “7.4±5.1 g.”

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethical committee of Pisa, Italy.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles