Lately, illegal drugs have invaded all aspects of the American society. Young adults are exposed to illegal substances earlier in their life, resulting in serious repercussions. And now a recent study published online in the journal Heart Asia revealed that recreational amphetamines, also known as speed, ice, snow, etc., can substantially hasten the process of premature aging of the heart.
Led by Stuart Reece, a clinical associate professor at the University of Western Australia, the study reported that the damage done by amphetamines is relatively high than the damage done by either tobacco or methadone. An aging heart loses its elasticity, and hence, it is unable to function to its optimum capacity. This eventually increases the risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular risks.
Stimulant abuse cause cardiovascular and physiological harm
Amphetamines are a class of synthetic drugs that are quite popular among the youth. Amphetamines can be prescribed for an array of disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, depression and anxiety. As psychostimulants, amphetamines, when used recreationally give one a sense of high. However, the euphoria may not be long lasting and a crash is inevitable.
It has been observed that a prolonged stimulant use may result in premature aging of the skin but not much was known about its effect on the arteries and the heart. As part of the study, the researchers measured the degree of muscular stiffening of arteries in 713 people in their 30s and 40s, who were seeking treatment for substance addiction between 2006 and 2011. The participants primarily comprised 483 no smokers, 107 smokers, 55 amphetamine users and 68 methadone users. It is generally seen that as a person ages, the heart ages as well. Thus, as the muscles of the heart lose their elasticity, it becomes difficult for it to function to its optimum capacity.
After taking into account other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, cholesterol and C reactive protein, the researchers revealed that the maximum stiffness was seen in the group that used amphetamine. The drug was found to affect the heart rate and increase the risk of a heart attack and aneurysm.
“The implication from the present work is that recurrent habitual amphetamine abuse ages the cardiovasculature, and likely the whole organism generally. It is therefore conceivable that stimulant abusers do physiological and cardiovascular harm,” said the researchers.
Potential for abuse and dependency is high in case of amphetamines
It is difficult to realize when a legitimate use of stimulants might give rise to an addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 11 percent of the American population aged 4–17 years were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. This clearly indicates that the use of stimulant medications, including amphetamines to treat ADHD, is also increasing correspondingly. In larger doses, amphetamine drugs cause some of the most serious effects such as heart failure, chest pain, aggression, hallucinations or anxiety and severe fatigue. A chronic use of stimulants can cause symptoms as given below:
- Increased heart rate
- High body temperature and blood pressure
- Tremors and muscle shake
- Brian damage
Seeking professional help
With an increase in deaths caused due to prescription drug overdoses across all U.S. states, it is important to seek immediate professional help. If you know someone who is addicted to prescription drugs, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to find the top prescription drug abuse treatment centers in USA. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557 or chat online with our representatives to know more about the best prescription drug treatment facility in your locality.