Ceasing Methamphetamine Use Helps Reverse Drug-Induced Heart Failure

The use of methamphetamine (meth) can cause severe heart failure (HF), but stopping use can significantly improve according to the findings of a new study presented at the American Heart Association 2019 Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

“Methamphetamine abuse and the HF it can cause are growing public health concern,” said lead author Harpreet S. Bhatia, MD, of the University of California, San Diego in a press release. “Interventions directed at treating addiction are vital, in addition to optimal medical therapy for HF in general.”

The study researchers compared the medical records between 74 patients with meth-associated HF and 83 patients HF. All patients who had used meth underwent treatment at the same hospital around the same time as non-meth users. Patients with meth-associated HF were younger (mean age: 51 for users, 61 for non-users). Heart problems with the main pumping chamber, which was observed to be enlarged in users and pumping less blood than their non-using counterparts, were reported.

According to the results, patients with meth-associated HF were hospitalized at a rate four-fold that of non-meth users over a period of one year. Moreover, those with meth-associated HF were eight times more likely to abuse alcohol and five times more likely to use opioids. Patients in both study groups were evaluated at baseline, six months, and 12 months, with urine tests used to determine those who were using. Among patients who stopped using, 43% showed improvement in pumping ability, compared with continued users, who showed a 4% decrease in pumping ability. Those who discontinued use were significantly less likely to hospitalized while being just as unlikely to improve as patients with HF unrelated to meth use.

“We were surprised to see the positive effects of meth cessation in such a short time,” said Dr. Bhatia in a presentation. “Our study provides hope that HF can be improved if meth abuse can be addressed along with prescribing optimal therapy for HF.”