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Methamphetamines May Be Toxic to Blood Vessels

Report posits increased risk for artery tears, stroke in users of the drug

TUESDAY, Dec. 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- People who use methamphetamine may be at increased risk for neck artery tears and stroke, a study in the Dec. 26 issue of Neurology reports.

"It appears methamphetamine use is toxic to large blood vessels," senior study author Dr. Wengui Yu, of the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

"While methamphetamine use has been associated with aortic dissection, a tear in the wall of the aorta, the largest artery of the body, this is the first time there's been a possible link between methamphetamine use and carotid artery dissection, a tear in the neck artery," Yu said.

This study looked at the cases of two women, aged 36 and 29, who experienced sudden speech difficulty and weakness after using methamphetamine. Brain scans showed that the women had suffered severe strokes due to a neck artery tear. Other than methamphetamine use, the two women did not have any other major risk factors for stroke. Both women recovered but have mild to moderate disabilities.

"Since cocaine has similar effects and has also been linked to aortic and carotid artery dissection, it's therefore likely that the tears in the arteries may be due to a drug class effect rather than a specific drug, like methamphetamine," Yu said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about methamphetamine.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Dec. 25, 2006
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