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Clinical Toxicology of Cocaine

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Recent widespread abuse of cocaine has resulted in an alarming increase in emergency department admissions for acute treatment of this toxic drug. Highly publicised cocaine-associated deaths of prominent athletes have awakened both the medical community and the general public to the possible devastating effects of this so-called ‘champagne of drugs’. A potent central nervous system stimulant, cocaine produces symptoms that include changes in activity, mood, blood pressure, cardiac rhythm, respiration and body temperature. The adverse effects of cocaine, which may progress rapidly to death, include cerebrovascular accidents, myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac arrhythmias, pneumomediastinum, rhabdomyolysis with myoglobinuric renal failure and intestinal ischaemia. In addition, cocaine has been implicated in obstetric and neontal complications. Because of the exceedingly rapid progression of the ‘cocaine reaction’ to a fatal outcome, it is imperative that clinicians know how to recognise and manage the symptoms of cocaine overdose.

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Loper, K.A. Clinical Toxicology of Cocaine. Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp 4, 174–185 (1989).

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  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine Abuse
  • Clinical Toxicology
  • Body Packer
  • Cocaine Hydrochloride