Numbers of methamphetamine-linked heart failures have been on the rise for more than a decade, especially in U.S. veterans, according to a study presented at this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.
More than 4.7 percent of Americans admit to trying meth, a highly addictive stimulant, at least once in their lives, CNN reported. Past research has proven the drug has toxic effects on both the heart and the brain.
The study’s authors found the average meth user with heart failure was 61 years old—11 years younger than the typical heart failure patient. Statistically, patients with a past of methamphetamine abuse were younger, unemployed, prone to PTSD and depression and more likely to be homeless.
“Military veterans are an especially vulnerable population for developing mental health and substance use issues,” Harshal Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, told CNN.
Kirane and study author Marin Nishimura said they’re still unsure of why meth-linked heart failure is on the rise in this particular group of patients.
“What’s certainly contributing to the current popularity is likely due to the fact that it can be synthesized in small-scale laboratories,” Nishimura said. “And sold at relatively low street prices.”
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