Recreational amphetamine use may accelerate cardiovascular ageing

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Experts say the finding is of real concern to all those tasked with protection of public heath.

Use of recreational amphetamines, popularly known as ‘speed,’ ‘ice’ and ‘ecstasy,’ has previously been associated with negative cardiovascular system effects. But findings from a new study published in Heart Asia suggest the impacts are much greater.

In a study of 713 people attending a clinic for substance misuse between 2006 and 2011, subacute exposure to amphetamines was found to be associated with an advancement of cardiovascular-organismal age. The effects were seen in both men and women, irrespective of other potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Recognising that many physiological processes in the body start to fail as part of the normal ageing process, but the authors said that the findings suggest stimulant abuse seems to compound and accelerate this process.

“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,” the authors said.

It is not clear if the damage is reversible, they added, suggesting that their findings add even greater impetus to the need to tackle the “global stimulant epidemic”.

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