Xanax, the brand name of alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine commonly used as an anti-anxiety medication. It’s in the same pharmaceutical family as Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam).
Xanax may be prescribed for generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorders, panic attacks, and other mental health concerns.
This prescription drug works by targeting the GABA receptors in your central nervous system. These neurotransmitters are responsible for inhibiting neural activity, producing a calming effect and some sleepiness.
Due to the general changes initiated by binding with the GABA receptors, your heart function may fluctuate in response to Xanax.
When used according to your prescription, these side effects are unlikely to affect your heart health.
Unfortunately, misuse of Xanax may cause unpredictable changes to your heart function. In extreme situations, these can be life-threatening.
How Xanax Abuse Affects The Heart
Under normal circumstances, Xanax will slow your heart rate and slightly decrease your blood pressure.
Over time or with high doses and continued use, this can strain the heart and cause other effects, such as the following.
Heart Rate Changes
Xanax drug abuse will prompt withdrawal as the drug begins to leave your system. Part of your body’s response to the absence of the drug is an increase in heart rate.
A rapid increase in your heart rate isn’t always dangerous, but there is an increased risk of short-term arrhythmias and other cardiac complications.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
The other half of your cardiac system’s response to withdrawal is an increase in blood pressure.
While temporary, the excess strain on your veins and arteries can cause damage, especially if you continue to abuse Xanax for a prolonged period of time.
The changes to your normal heart function may cause heart palpitations. Some people may feel like their heart is racing or fluttering in their chest.
In isolated incidences, heart palpitations are usually harmless, but they are a clear sign that your cardiovascular system is distressed.
In extreme cases, severe withdrawal could cause part of your heart to stop pumping blood. This is called a heart attack, and it limits the flow of blood through your heart to the rest of your body.
The potential risk of heart failure is one of the many reasons why you should consider a medically supervised detox program when you are ready to start detoxing from Xanax.
Causes Of Xanax-Induced Heart Problems
There are several factors that could cause your cardiovascular system to start functioning abnormally.
Xanax addiction is typically associated with long-term use in high doses. Addiction can result in withdrawal when the drug begins to exit your system, causing all of the cardiovascular changes mentioned above.
Abusing Xanax also increases the risk of developing physical dependence.
When you are physically dependent on a medication like Xanax, your body may overcompensate, resulting in Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
Common side effects of Xanax withdrawal include:
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
High Doses Of Xanax
Xanax is not designed to be taken in high doses.
When higher doses are required for a serious substance use disorder, you will likely have your dose gradually increased under medical supervision to minimize risks and establish the lowest working dose.
Moving beyond your medically prescribed dose could negatively affect your overall health, especially your heart.
Pre-Existing Cardiovascular Issues
Any pre-existing cardiovascular disease will make you more susceptible to further harm.
Before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medication, you should discuss your current cardiac health with your healthcare provider.
Together, you can go over the potential risks and explore treatment options that will help protect your long-term health.
Is Heart Damage Caused By Xanax Addiction Reversible?
The changes to your heart rate and blood pressure are fully reversible with management of your drug addiction.
Unfortunately, there is a chance that repeated fluctuations will cause lasting damage.
The temporary spike in blood pressure is particularly worrisome, as it expands the blood vessels beyond their normal diameter.
If you are regularly abusing Xanax, the repetitive expansion of your blood vessels will eventually weaken the vessel walls.
This damage is often permanent, and it may make you more susceptible to cardiac issues in the future.
To prevent lasting damage to your heart, it’s important to seek treatment when you first start to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction Treatment Programs For Xanax Use
When it comes to treating a Xanax drug addiction, late is always better than never.
There is the potential that some of the damage to your body may be permanent, but you can effectively stop the progression of that damage by asking for help now.
With the assistance of a high-quality addiction treatment center, you can gradually taper off Xanax and receive medically assisted detox as needed.
Given the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, a quality program will also provide evidence-based therapy options in both inpatient and outpatient settings to provide the comprehensive care.
Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
At Bedrock Recovery Center, we want to make sure that you have access to the best possible care as you start on the path toward recovery.
There’s no reason to face permanent damage to your heart and veins if you have the option to receive help today.
If you or a loved one is ready to stop abusing prescription medications, call us at our Massachusetts treatment location.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.