Young adults who misuse amphetamines have a three-fold risk for tears in the aorta -- the body's largest artery -- compared with nonusers, Reuters reported Aug. 17.
Researchers at the University of Texas examined the medical records of 31,000 Americans ages 18–44 hospitalized between 1995–2007 and found that patients who abused amphetamines had three times the risk for aortic dissection than patients who did not, even after controlling for other risk factors.
Amphetamines are known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Aortic tears are potentially fatal. The research team also examined medical records of 49 million U.S. adults over age 50, but did not find an increased risk in this age group.
"Doctors should screen young adults with aortic dissection for amphetamine abuse in searching for a potential cause," said Dr. Arthur Westover, lead author of the study.
The research appears in the August 2010 issue of the American Heart Journal.