Current strategies in the evaluation and management of cocaine-induced chest pain

Pratik R. Agrawal, Tiziano M. Scarabelli, Louis Saravolatz, Annapoorna Kini, Abhijay Jalota, Carol Chen-Scarabelli, Valentin Fuster, Jonathan L. Halperin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


With each successive year, the number of Emergency Department (ED) visits related to illicit drug abuse has progressively increased. Cocaine is the most common illegal drug to cause a visit to the ED. Cocaine use results in a variety of pathophysiological changes with regards to the cardiovascular system, such as constriction of coronary vessels, dysfunction of vascular endothelium, decreased aortic elasticity, hemodynamic disruptions, a hypercoagulable state, and direct toxicity to myocardial and vascular tissue. The clinical course of patients with cocaine-induced chest pain (CCP) is often challenging, and electrocardiographic findings can be potentially misleading in terms of diagnosing a myocardial infarction. In addition, there is no current satisfactory study regarding outcomes of use of various pharmacological drug therapies to manage CCP. At present, calcium-channel blockers and nitroglycerin are two pharmacological agents that are advocated as first-line drugs for CCP management, although the role of labetalol has been controversial and warrants further investigation. We performed an extensive search of available literature through a large number of scholarly articles previously published and listed on Index Medicus. In this review, we put forward a concise summary of the current approach to a patient presenting to the ED with CCP and management of the clinical scenario. The purpose of this review is to summarize the understanding of cocaine's cardiovascular pathophysiology and to examine the current approach for proper evaluation and management of CCP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-311
Number of pages9
JournalCardiology in Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015


  • Chest pain
  • Cocaine
  • Illicit drug use
  • Myocardial ischemia
  • Observation unit
  • β-blockers


Dive into the research topics of 'Current strategies in the evaluation and management of cocaine-induced chest pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this