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New Study: Amphetamine Abuse and This Old Heart

It’s called speed for a reason. Amphetamines, like Ritalin or Adderall, accelerate your heart rate. They send your nervous system into overdrive.

Guess what else it speeds up? The aging process.

That’s right. Pumping your system full of amphetamine makes you get older faster. It makes sense – you’re unnaturally forcing your heart to work extra hard, so it’s going to wear out more quickly.

Researchers suspected this truth, but wanted to find hard evidence to support their suspicion. And – surprise, surprise – results confirmed that amphetamine abuse does increase heart age. The research team also noted that previous studies showed amphetamine use interferes with stem cell functioning and healthy cell division, inhibiting tissue repair and increasing tissue injury.

What Does This Mean for Your Body?

In short, older hearts simply aren’t as strong. As the heart ages, it isn’t able to pump blood as well as it used to. Since amphetamine affects the entire cardiovascular system, arteries also lose optimal performance. They become thicker and less flexible, making your heart work even harder.

The overall result is a weakening of your body and increased susceptibility to a host of health issues related to heart aging. Some of the most common heart problems caused by amphetamine abuse are:

  • Angina: This chest pain is caused by reduced blood flow to your heart.
  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries): Blood vessels narrow and can become completely blocked.
  • High blood pressure: This condition can be extremely hazardous to your health, resulting in heart attack and stroke.
  • Stroke: If blood flow to the brain is interrupted, a stroke may occur. This can result in permanent loss of physical and mental abilities, coma, or death.
  • Heart valve disease: As the heart ages, the valves may not operate fully. This decreases blood flow from your heart.
  • Congestive heart failure: As your heart and arteries become less effective, blood no longer travels through the body as it should. In many cases, blood pools up in areas of the body like the lungs, liver, arms, and legs.

Downward Spiral

These serious heart conditions greatly impact your overall health. While many people experience a few of these symptoms with normal aging, amphetamine use causes a premature onset of these issues.

Imagine feeling like you’re 75 on your 30th birthday. You lack the energy and physical abilities you should have at that stage in life. You’re also at high risk for the common consequences of these conditions – heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.

Is it worth it?

Image Source: iStock
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