More and more U.S. military veterans are suffering heart failure because of meth, according to a new report from the American Heart Association. Earlier this week, the nation’s foremost authority on heart disease revealed the preliminary findings of a study that shows an increase in heart-related conditions, including those that can cause blood clots, stroke and heart failure, among veterans who use the drug.
Dr. Marin Nishimura, the lead author of the study, discussed the details of this research last Tuesday at the organization’s annual scientific session in Anaheim, California. Dr. Nishimura is the resident physician at the University of California, San Diego. She told those in attendance that methamphetamine “could have a wide range of effects on patients’ physical and mental well-being.”
She explained how the drug seems to be taxing the hearts and minds of those who served our country. And it seems to be killing them at a much younger age.
“When we see a younger individual who comes to the hospital with heart failure, we should be thinking about meth use,” Nishimura said.
To come to this conclusion, Nishimura and her team analyzed the medical records of some 10,000 veterans in the San Diego area. In doing this, they found that 480 of these people had a history of using methamphetamine. This may not sound like an alarming number. However, Nishimura says the data reveals a steady influx of veterans turning to meth over the past decade.
“The proportion of patients that used methamphetamine was increasing from 2005 to 2015,” Nishimura said, according to CNN. “From 1.7% of total heart patients at this facility in 2005 to 8% in 2015.”
Overall, the study found evidence to suggest that soldiers who use methamphetamine at a young age are “more likely to be homeless, unemployed and diagnosed with other substance-abuse conditions.”
The report goes on to say that these folks have a tendency to die from heart failure around ten years earlier than VA patients who have never touched the drug.
But is meth the driving cause? Is it that simple that veterans are suffering heart failure because of meth? The jury is still out on that one.
Nishimura said that while “we can’t say all of these patients had methamphetamine-induced heart failure… these are cases where people were using methamphetamine and developed heart failure.” It is for this reason that she believes more veterans should be screened for methamphetamine. That way, VA physicians will have a finger on the pulse.
Final Hit: Veterans Are Suffering Heart Failure Because of Meth
Some of the latest federal data show that the methamphetamine problem is not just targeting the nation’s veterans. It’s a looming epidemic for the entire population.
In 2010, roughly 1,400 people died as a result of a meth overdose. That mortality rate is now closer to 6,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As it stands, roughly 5 percent of the population admits to using methamphetamine at least once in their life. Considering the ten-year uprising in this trend, that number could easily double by 2023. Unfortunately, so could the number of heart failures and overdose deaths.