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What are the medical complications of methamphetamine abuse?     Send a link to a friend

[SEPT. 14, 2004]  Methamphetamine can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems. These include rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and irreversible, stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions occur with methamphetamine overdoses and, if not treated immediately, can result in death.

Chronic methamphetamine abuse can result in inflammation of the heart lining and, among users who inject the drug, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses. Methamphetamine abusers also can have episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Heavy users also show progressive social and occupational deterioration. Psychotic symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after use has ceased.

Acute lead poisoning is another potential risk for methamphetamine abusers. A common method of illegal methamphetamine production uses lead acetate as a reagent. Production errors therefore may result in methamphetamine contaminated with lead. There have been documented cases of acute lead poisoning in intravenous methamphetamine abusers.

 

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Fetal exposure to methamphetamine also is a significant problem in the United States. At present, research indicates that methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy may result in prenatal complications, increased rates of premature delivery and altered neonatal behavioral patterns, such as abnormal reflexes and extreme irritability. Methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy may be linked also to congenital deformities.

[National Institute on Drug Abuse]

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