The Heart of Meth Use by Angela Goldberg

Angela Goldberg

When it comes to finding reasons for quitting meth there’s one that gets right to the heart of the matter. If you have a history of meth use, it will result in life and death challenges for your cardiovascular system. In simple terms, your heart is a pump. Meth use turns it into a turbo-charged pump creating a condition where the heart just can’t keep up with the artificially increased workload, leading to heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, leg swelling, fatigue, and even sudden death. These are just some of the health issues brought on by meth use:

1. It stimulates the heart to contract too hard and too fast for too long
2. It causes jarring heart rhythm disturbances
3. It causes reduced blood flow to the heart due to constriction of the coronary arteries
4. It damages the heart muscle
5. It causes heart attacks
6. It can cause sudden death.

How soon does meth use start to damage your heart? Immediately! However, there is some good news. Just as a person can recover from meth addiction, so can their heart. Scripps Mercy Hospital Cardiologist, David Shaw, and his colleagues studied 159 patients admitted at Scripps Mercy between 2009 and 2014, looking at the differences between meth using patients with heart failure and those who had stopped using.

The symptoms of patients who stopped using meth became more stable and they were much more likely to improve. Those who continued to use were much more likely to get worse over time. Dr. Shaw concluded, “Stopping methamphetamine use can permit the heart to recover, if stopped in time.”

Over the course of the study the research showed an increase of meth-associated heart failure from 1.8% to 5.6%. In addition, 2015 figures released by the San Diego County Medical Examiners office show that every twenty-eight hours, someone in San Diego County died with meth in their system. They died for many reasons, but overdose complicated by natural disease was the single biggest cause. Cardiovascular disease was at the top of the list.

So, as you consider the impacts of meth use in your life, also consider the heartfelt benefits of recovery! Discuss your cardiovascular health with your doctors to better understand what further action is needed for you to live a heart-healthy life.