Health Watch - Substance Abuse: Amphetamines and the Aorta

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the health effects of substance abuse. Previously, we discussed the increased risk for heart attack in amphetamine abusers. Now researchers have found another risk.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that young people who abuse amphetamines have a greater risk for tears in the aorta – the main artery leading from the heart. That’s a serious condition that could be deadly. Dr. Arthur Westover, a UT Southwestern Medical Center psychiatrist and expert on drug and alcohol addiction, says this condition is rare, especially in younger people, so when it occurs in young people, doctors should consider the possibility of amphetamine abuse. Doctors found that the rate of aortic tears in young people is on the rise, but the rate isn’t rising in older people. There are also more aortic tears occurring in areas with higher rates of amphetamine abuse. These tears are often caused by high blood pressure, and amphetamines raise blood pressure.

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November 2010


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