5 Critical Heart Attack Symptoms from Meth Abuse You NEED to Know
Clinically Reviewed by:
18 January, 2023
Meth is a highly addictive substance that critically affects vital organs of the human body. The cardiovascular system is the one that gets severely affected due to meth abuse. The effects of meth abuse on one's heart can be life-threatening if not identified and treated on time.
Now, let’s look at how methamphetamine abuse can cause heart attacks and ways to prevent it.
5 Symptoms That are an Early Warning of Heart Attack
Someone addicted to meth will start to show some physical symptoms of drug abuse. Some such symptoms are associated with degraded heart health. Here are some of the symptoms that link meth use and heart disease.
High blood pressure
Numbness in the limbs
If any of these symptoms appear in a meth-addicted individual, it is an early warning sign that one must not ignore. These symptoms indicate that an individual, who is a meth abuser, is also at risk of a heart attack, heart failure, or cardiac arrest. But how does one get addicted to meth?
How Does One Get Addicted to Meth?
Meth belongs to a class of drugs called amphetamines. Amphetamines are often used as medicines to treat diseases like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, this class of drug has other illegal variants and is often used as an addictive substance. These drugs act as stimulants to increase dopamine levels in our brains.
Dopamine is responsible for producing feelings of motivation, bliss, intense focus, euphoria, sense of victory and accomplishment. So, flooding the brain with an excessive amount of dopamine gives an individual a rush of happiness. Eventually, with continued use, it makes one dependent on the substance.
Can Meth Usage Cause a Heart Attack?
An individual's peripheral nervous system regulates blood pressure and heart rate. Meth amplifies the catecholamine (neurohormone) activity in the peripheral nervous system and causes cardiotoxicity.
Let’s look at some short-term and long-term effects of meth abuse on the cardiovascular system:
Meth abuse affects the proper functioning of the electric signals that help maintain the rhythm of our heartbeats. As a result, it can cause the heart to beat unusually fast (bradycardia) or unusually slow (tachycardia).
Most heart arrhythmias are harmless but can turn life-threatening if they occur continuously. Ventricular fibrillation is one of the most dangerous, where the heart beats irregularly.
Narrowing of Blood Vessels
As a result of meth addiction, the blood vessels start to accumulate fatty deposits or plaque. The accumulated plaque blocks the blood flow and makes the vessels more rigid.
Smaller blood vessels of the heart, kidney, and central nervous systems are most affected by it. The restriction of the blood flow increases blood pressure and the chances of a heart attack.
Myocardial infarction or heart attack is an extremely dangerous condition. A lack of blood flowing to the heart due to blockage and narrowed blood vessels causes this condition. It needs immediate medical attention for the patient to survive.
It is a condition where a tear occurs in the main arteries of the body. Blood rushes through the tears and causes the inner and middle layers of the artery to split. It is one of the deadliest long-term effects of meth abuse.
Symptoms of aortic dissection are severe chest or upper back pain, breathlessness, and loss of consciousness.
Thickening of Heart Muscle
Thickening of heart muscles can be very disadvantageous. Chronic stress is often common among all substance abusers. This causes the heart muscles to grow thicker and lose stretchability. This condition hampers the blood flow to the heart and makes pumping blood to the body difficult in the long run.
Meth increases catecholamine activity which is a stress hormone. It results in the narrowing of blood vessels, heart spasms, heart muscle degeneration, hypertension, and tachycardia.
Cardiomyopathy is a condition seen in the later stages of meth abuse, making it even harder for the heart to pump blood into the system. Three major types of cardiomyopathies are hypertrophic, restrictive, and dilated.
Thus, meth use and cardiovascular diseases go hand in hand. However, these hazardous effects on an individual's cardiovascular system are also influenced by certain risk factors other than meth consumption.
What are the Risk Factors Involving Meth Abuse?
It cannot be decided who among meth addicts remains the most vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases. But some risk factors exist, that increases the probability of contracting heart disease.
Let’s look at some of them.
Frequency and Modes of Meth Abuse
The frequency of taking meth can increase or decrease the chances of cardiac diseases. An individual who has a habit of taking meth in frequent amounts is more prone to cardiovascular damage than others. Also, smoking and injecting crystal meth hold more potent danger than other modes of intake.
Combination of Meth with Other Drugs
The risk of getting heart disease increases if one takes meth with other illicit substances. For example, a combination of meth and cocaine would be more fatal than meth alone.
History of Addiction
People with a history of addiction are more at risk due to the damage already caused to the system. An alcoholic person is more prone to cardiac diseases than others.
Generally, people above 40 suffer from cardiac issues more than people below that age. However, this can vary depending on the form of meth being abused, the frequency of intake, and the time period of addiction.
History of Cardiac Issues
Meth abuse would worsen any underlying condition a human body has, in this case a previous cardiac issue.
Is Damage From Meth Abuse Permanent?
The damage meth abuse does to an individual can be healed and reversed by stopping drug usage and by proper treatment. When an individual stops meth abuse and recovers from the withdrawal process, one's heart health also starts to recover. However, recovery depends on complete abstinence from drug addiction and on a healthy lifestyle.
If an individual cannot follow up with the long recovery process and falls into meth withdrawal and relapse cycles, there can be irrecoverable damage to the heart. Effective treatment and aftercare play a very important role to keep that from happening.
What are the Other Effects of Meth Abuse on the Human Body?
Meth's effects are not limited to the cardiovascular system. It affects the brain, kidneys, immune system, skin, and teeth. Let's look at what meth abuse does to these body parts in detail.
Meth damages an individual’s brain on various levels. For example, meth intake damages and kills glial cells in the central nervous system. Glial cells in the prefrontal cortex areas receive more damage compared to other parts of the brain. This impairs an individual’s judgment, planning capability, attention span and quality, abstract thinking, and more.
Meth abuse can cause nephrotoxicity. Renal failure can happen due to two major reasons: first, decreased blood flow to the kidneys resulting in serious kidney injuries, and second, due to rhabdomyolysis when muscle fibers break into proteins and damage kidneys.
Meth suppresses killer T-cells, which makes an individual prone to many infectious diseases. The harmful impact on T-cell activation and decreased count of memory cells leaves an individual vulnerable to many bacterial and viral diseases.
Meth is water-soluble, so it comes out with sweat. Sweat infused with toxic elements causes damage to the skin. Furthermore, picking and scratching the skin is a common side effect of meth abuse. Ultimately, it results in open sores and infections.
Due to an increased body temperature, oily skin, and sweat, a meth-addicted individual gets feelings of insects crawling over their skin. This results in more intensive scratching and skin picking.
Meth abuse can be dangerous for one's dental health too. It can cause severe tooth decay, causing all teeth to fall out. It also deteriorates gum health significantly. The teeth of a meth-addicted person can be severely deformed and cannot be saved.
However, one should not wait for these signs to show up. If one can identify meth addiction at the initial stages, the treatment process can be much easier and the recovery more fruitful.
How to Identify if Someone is Using Meth?
It is necessary to identify if someone is using meth at the early stages of abuse. This can be done by assessing the symptoms of meth abuse in an individual.
Here are some prominent signs of meth abuse to identify if one is under its influence.
Increased physical activity
Rapid eye movement
Wounds and scars due to injections
There are other things that can lead to identifying a drug abuser. These include identifying drug paraphernalia or items like aluminum foils, burned spoons, syringes, needles, etc. that a drug abuser often needs.
What to Do After Identifying Meth Abuse?
After identifying that someone close is suffering meth abuse disorder, it often becomes very difficult for a caregiver to take the next right step. If such a case occurs, one can consider using the few tips mentioned below in order to take the next best step toward recovery.
Show Compassion: Remember that the concerned person can be under a lot of stress that a sober individual may not be able to understand. So, one should be compassionate in such a case, irrespective of how a drug abuser responds.
Conduct Research: For a caregiver to give the relief and proper support that a meth abuser needs, it is mandatory to gain sufficient knowledge about meth abuse, its symptoms, effects, and ways of treatment.
Have Patience: The suffering individual can be hesitant to open up or admit being a meth abuser at first. So, showing patience and persistent care is necessary.
Do Not Blame: A caregiver should never blame a patient for drug abuse, especially when one needs care and treatment for recovery.
Be Empathetic: An individual on meth abuse can be very sensitive to the people around them or to the treatment received. As a caregiver, one needs to be empathetic and supportive to the drug abuser.
Do Not Make False Promises: As a means of motivation, one can make promises of rewarding a meth abuser on their path to recovery. However, try not to make false promises, as that can hinder a smooth recovery down the road.
Finally, when the patient is ready to opt for the treatment, the next step is to find a proper treatment center for meth abuse. One can identify a competent treatment provider by evaluating the phases and methods they follow for the treatment.
How Can Meth Abuse Be Treated?
Meth abuse and heart attack are closely related. One should seek the help of an authorized drug rehab center for reducing complications in the road to recovery. A professional treatment center will often provide the following methods and phases of treatment:
Methods of Treatment for Meth Abuse
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment aims at recognizing and treating mental health disorders that could have caused meth abuse and vice versa.
Medication-Assisted treatment (MAT)
Medication-Assisted Treatment can help a patient smoothly recover in times of withdrawal and other emergencies.
Experiential Therapy involves adventurous activities that can help one find their true potential and discover new meaning in life.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioral therapy can help an individual to understand deeper emotions and to make reasonable decisions through self-acceptance.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
EMDR therapy helps an individual to face their traumatic past while nurturing their intrinsic strengths so that they can overcome that trauma permanently.
Phases of Treatment
In this phase, expert clinicians will monitor the patient's vital signs and administer necessary medication and counseling to stop a patient from taking the concerned drug.
Patients can further recover and get control over their cravings in a closely monitored environment with no external distractions.
Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
Through group and one-on-one sessions, this phase of treatment aims to give the patients a better understanding of themselves and what recovery means for them.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
This phase prepares the patients for independent living. They learn necessary life skills, build new healthy relationships, and more.
This is the final phase of treatment and demands minimal visits to the center. The patients are independent individuals at this stage.
Meth abuse not only affects one’s heart but an individual's physical, mental and social aspects of life as well. Many meth addicts suggest that avoiding the substance would be the best practice. However, if one is already under its influence, prompt action toward effective treatment is necessary.
Get the Required Help From The Edge Treatment Center
The Edge Treatment Center uses proven, evidence-based methods to treat addiction to crystal meth, pink meth, powder meth, and more. We understand how dangerous meth addiction can be and provide a closely monitored person-centric treatment plan fitting an individual’s needs.
Avoid meth overdose at all costs. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and start your recovery journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can heart attacks last?
Mild heart attacks can last from 2 to 5 minutes, but a heart attack caused due to completely blocked arteries can last up to 20 minutes.
What do treatment facilities do for heart attacks?
Treatment facilities generally try to restore normal blood flow to the damaged areas of the heart concerned with the heart attack.
In which drug category does meth fall?
Meth is a psycho-stimulant. In other words, it speeds up body activities by stimulating the central nervous system.
How many people are using meth?
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2020, 2.6 million people have been reported as using meth in the United States.
Name one of the most abused drugs worldwide.
According to the United Nations, meth is one of the most abused drugs in the world.
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