Cocaine in Hospital Admissions for Diseases of the Circulatory System and as the Underlying Cause of Death: Analysis and Discussion
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Cocaine is a cardiotoxic drug which has been associated with morbi-mortality due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This study aims to: (1) analyze the hospitalizations due to cardiovascular processes and the presence of cocaine among the toxic habits of patients; and (2) discuss the forensic difficulties in sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the presence of cocaine. Hospital discharges due to CVD reporting cocaine consumption as a secondary diagnosis between 2003 and 2013 in Spain were analyzed. Subsequently, a review of judicial autopsies (SCD in cocaine users) was carried out to illustrate the forensic difficulties in the determination of the manner and underlying cause of death when cocaine use is involved. The average CVD morbidity rate was 1104.4 per 100,000 population. The most common main diagnoses of which cocaine use was recorded as a secondary diagnosis were rheumatic fever, ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease in male patients between 15 and 44 years. The cardiovascular findings in the autopsies of cocaine users vary, and determining the mechanism that triggered the death in forensic practice is a challenge. The presence of cocaine among the toxic habits of young patients admitted for CVD in Spain is increasing. In our opinion, criteria must be unified to establish the manner and underlying cause of death in SCD and toxicological analysis can be a key part in the process.
KeywordsCocaine Sudden death Cardiovascular disease Ischemic heart disease Medico-legal autopsy
Sudden cardiac death
International Classification of Diseases
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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