A study by Khung-Keong Yeo, now a clinical fellow in the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, found that young people who use methamphetamine (aka meth, crank, or crystal) more than triple their risk of heart failure.
Yeo led a team that reviewed the medical records of 107 patients ages 45 and 114 age-matched patients discharged without signs of heart problems. After adjusting for other risk factors, including body weight and kidney failure, the researchers found that meth users had a 3.7 times greater risk of cardiomyopathy compared to the patients who did not use the illegal drug. Yeo led the study while he was a medical resident at the University of Hawaii. The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Medicine.
Among the patients studied, four of every 10 with cardiomyopathy used methamphetamine. In patients with cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes larger but weaker. People with cardiomyopathy are at risk for heart failure and arrhythmia, a condition in which the heartbeat is abnormal, as well as sudden cardiac death.
Although the study was not designed to determine why methamphetamine use increases cardiomyopathy risk, Yeo said that â€œthere are many speculated causes, including spasm of the arteries supplying the heart, direct toxicity, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.”