Amphetamine Abuse Can Cause Aortic Dissection and Death

Amphetamine Abuse Can Cause Aortic Dissection and Death

There are a number of reasons not to use amphetamines and while a doctor may prescribe them in situations where they are needed, dependence and abuse can quickly take hold. According to a recent Science Daily report, there is another reason to stay away from such drugs.

A recent study by a UT Southwestern professor of psychiatry found that young adults who abuse amphetamines could be at an enhanced risk for suffering a tear in the main artery that leads from the heart.

To come to this conclusion, researchers studied the medical records of nearly 31 million people who were between the ages of 18 and 49 years old. These individuals had been hospitalized sometime between 1995 and 2007.

Dr. Arthur Westover, the study’s lead author, noted that aortic dissection is very rare in young people. When it does occur, however, it often leads to death. If a physician encounters aortic dissection in a young adult, that individual should be screened for amphetamine abuse to determine the potential cause.

The largest artery in the body, the aorta stems from the heart and dissection takes place when a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta. This allows blood to separate or dissect, which can eventually cause a rupture to occur in the aortic wall. The result of this rupture is generally death.

Amphetamines are often abused by individuals due to their stimulating effects. Such drugs act on the body in a way very similar to cocaine, which is also known to have adverse effects on the heart. Amphetamines are proven to increase blood pressure in some individuals and heightened blood pressure – or hypertension – is a known trigger that can cause the dissection of the aorta.


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