is a central nervous stimulant that is used both as a medication as well as for
As a medication, it is used to treat attention deficit
. It is also sometimes used in the treatment of
obesity that does not respond to other treatments as well as narcolepsy, a
condition associated with an irresistible desire to sleep. The drug causes side
effects like palpitations
and high blood pressure, and can
even cause stroke
ruptured aneurysms and death in patients
with an underlying cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is contraindicated for
use in those with an underlying heart disease.
‘Recreational amphetamine, a medication that is misused for its euphoric and aphrodisiac effects found to accelerate cardiovascular aging.’
stimulant and high abuse potential of amphetamine is responsible for it being
used as a recreational drug to cause euphoria and as an aphrodisiac
. It is
popularly known by the names of 'speed,' 'ice,' and 'ecstasy' among abusers.
The amount used for recreational purposes is much higher than that used for
treatment, and can have serious consequences.
research team conducted an experiment to test whether recreational amphetamine
can cause premature biological aging of the cardiovascular system
. For their experiment, the researchers
recruited 713 people attending therapy for substance misuse over a period of
five years between 2006 and 2011. The people were divided into four groups: The
largest group consisted of non-smokers, while two other groups consisted of smokers
and methadone users. The amphetamine users' group consisted of 55 individuals.
Among these, 94% had taken amphetamine in the previous week and around half had
taken it the previous day.
assessed the thickening of the arteries of the arm and forearm indirectly by
measuring blood flow.
They considered the thickening as an indicator
of heart aging. The blood flow in the brachial artery (the artery of the arm)
was measured with the usual blood pressure cuff, while that of the radial
artery in the forearm was measured with the help of an instrument called the SphygmoCor
(a light weight portable device to obtain cardiovascular data) on 66 occasions.
They used SphygmoCor to calculate the biological age of blood vessels based on
arterial stiffening which was matched with the chronological age, sex, and
height of the individual.
on their findings, the researchers concluded that amphetamine accelerates the
aging process of the cardiovascular system which is faster in comparison to
smoking or using methadone. This aging could predispose to some of the serious
cardiovascular side effects of amphetamine.
The research team
suggest that the adverse effects of amphetamine on stem cells, which are
undifferentiated cells that give rise to other cells, could be responsible for
the early aging.
study was conducted in a small number of individuals. Therefore, a larger study
could help confirm the findings of this research.
- Reece AS, Norman A, Hulse GK Acceleration of cardiovascular-biological age by amphetamine exposure is a power function of chronological age Heart Asia 2017; 9: 30-38. doi: 10.1136/heartasia-2016-010832