Meth Abuse and Resulting Heart Failure are on the Rise Around the World

heart attack

It has been known that using methamphetamine is extremely dangerous to one’s physical health. Now, a recent study published in the medical journal Heart has revealed meth addicts are at extremely high risk of suffering heart failure, even after just one usage of the drug.

New Research Connects Worldwide Meth Experimentation to Heart Failure

Heart failures linked to methamphetamine experimentation are on the rise around the world. And not only are meth-related heart disease cases increasing, but the severity of such cases is also increasing, with the research finding several examples of individuals who suffered heart failure after using meth just once.

For the study, researchers at the VA Center for Innovation to Implementation in Menlo Park, California, compiled and reviewed published research on meth use and heart failure. In their study set, the researchers examined 21 observational studies that were done between 1997 and 2020 that involved several thousand people between the ages of 35 and 60.

The individuals examined in the 21 study sets had used meth through inhalation, injection, swallowing, smoking, and snorting. Some individuals used the drug as often as daily to every other week, and others used it just once.

Man is getting heart check

The researchers found a connection between meth users and heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. Most meth users examined in the study used meth for five years before their heart failure diagnosis. However, about 18% of users experienced heart failure within 12 months of their first use—a small number of those examined experienced heart failure after using meth once.

Further, meth users who developed heart disease displayed more severe symptoms than non-meth users in the same age group and socioeconomic demographic. The study also found that meth users were more likely to use other substances, suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, and experience depression and other heart and kidney diseases than non-meth users in the same age and socioeconomic demographic.

Researchers found the heart conditions of meth users to be so complicated and severe that the costs of treatment were recorded as being significantly higher than treatment costs for non-meth-related heart disease. In California alone, the state spent about $41.5 million in 2008 treating meth-related heart disease, which climbed to $390.2 million in 2018, an 840% increase. Meanwhile, the costs of non-meth-related heart disease in California also increased, but only by 82%.

The extremely complicated nature of meth-related heart disease often makes it difficult and costly to treat. Dr. Jonathan Davis, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, spoke to this point: “[The researchers] clearly demonstrate that with an improved understanding of patients’ relationships with methamphetamine and the other factors impacting their care, we will better characterize the pathophysiology of methamphetamine-associated heart failure and better investigate evidence-based best practices and treatment strategies. A multidisciplinary team designed to meet this population’s unique needs and deliver non-stigmatizing, patient-centered care is mandatory.” In the future, states and countries should invest more heavily in meth addiction treatment and prevention, as doing so will likely be a cost-saving measure in the extremely expensive public expenditure that results from addressing the downstream effects of meth addiction.

Harmful Side Effects of Experimenting with Meth

Sleepy woman, meth effects

Methamphetamine is an extremely toxic substance that causes harm to the human body as soon as one consumes it. Just some of the effects of using meth include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Intense itching and skin sores
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Confusion, memory loss, and sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior, rage-like emotions, and hallucinations

Finally, meth use has been found to cause changes in the brain’s dopamine system associated with reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning. Meth can cause long-term, even permanent brain damage that can lead to emotional and cognitive problems long after the addict stops using meth. That is why it is so important for meth users to get help as soon as possible.

Why Does Meth Cause So Much Harm to the Heart?

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association laid out how meth affects the heart: “In the heart, methamphetamine promotes myocardial structural and electrical remodeling, which may promote cardiac arrhythmias. Ultimately, methamphetamine induces profound mitochondrial dysfunction and cardiac myocyte death, driving dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure.” In layperson’s terms, the chemicals in meth are toxic in a nature that essentially restructures how the heart functions, causing some areas of the heart to function abnormally and others to shut down completely. All of the above puts the user at increased risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and death.

Meth Addicts Must Seek Treatment as Soon as Possible

The new findings could not be more clear. Meth abuse is extremely dangerous, and even one drug use instance puts individuals at high risk for long-term, potentially permanent, and even fatal consequences. If you know someone using meth, please do everything you can to get them help as soon as possible.


  • BMJ. “Methamphetamine-associated heart failure: a systematic review of observational studies.” British Medical Journal, 2022.
  • U.S.News. “Cases of Meth-Linked Heart Failure Are Spreading Worldwide.” U.S. News, 2022.
  • NIDA. “What is Methamphetamine?” National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2022.
  • JAHA. “Methamphetamine Use and Cardiovascular Disease.” Journal of the American Heart Association, 2019.



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.