• arrhythmia;
  • cocaine;
  • ion channel blockade;
  • therapy

Widespread use of cocaine and its attendant toxicity has produced a wealth of benchwork studies and small animal investigations that evaluated the effects of cocaine on the cardiovascular system. Despite this wealth of knowledge, very little is known about the frequency or types of arrhythmias in patients with significant cocaine toxicity. The likely aetiologies; catecholamine excess, sodium channel blockade, potassium channel blockade, calcium channel effects, or ischaemia may act alone or in concert to produce a vast array of clinical findings that are modulated by hyperthermia, acidosis, hypoxia and electrolyte abnormalities. The initial paper in the series by Wood & Dargan providing the epidemiological framework of cocaine use and abuse is followed by a detailed review of the electrophysiological effects of cocaine by O'Leary & Hancox. This review is designed to complement the previous papers and focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cocaine-associated arrhythmias.