Latest News 26 September 2019 | Cardiologists at Counties Manukau Health have published research identifying the overwhelmingly negative impact of smoking methamphetamine on heart health. 

Their research, recently published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, showed patients with methamphetamine associated cardiomyopathy (MAC) have a poor prognosis compared to other patients with heart failure due to other causes.

Doctors and study authors Jen Li Looi, Timothy Sutton, Ruvin Gabriel (CM Health) Tom Wang (now based in the USA) and Anthony Kueh (Auckland DHB) tracked 62 patients with MAC over the period between 2006 to 2019. Outcomes were compared to a cohort of patients with heart failure unrelated to the drug.

They found MAC patients were more likely to be younger, male and of Maaori ethnicity and have a worse prognosis than those with other kinds heart failure.

Senior author Dr Li Looi  says the mechanisms of how methamphetamine damages the heart are likely due to several causes, including causing a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure and causing the narrowing of blood vessels in the heart. Methamphetamine itself may be toxic to the heart muscle, resulting in heart failure.

The research shows the need for education and health policies to increase awareness of the adverse effects of methamphetamine.

“Abstinence from methamphetamine is absolutely important in preventing deterioration and improving heart function,” Dr Li  Looi says.

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