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Can Meth Cause a Heart Attack?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 22, 2024

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Methamphetamine use can damage all bodily systems, with especially severe effects on the heart. Can meth cause heart attacks, though? Read on to learn more about the effects of methamphetamine on heart health.

Meth and Heart Attack Risk

Heart problems caused by using methamphetamine are increasing worldwide. Not only are more people experiencing heart issues due to meth use, but the severity of these problems is also getting worse. Some people have even faced heart failure after trying meth just one time.

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Researchers from the VA Center for Innovation to Implementation in California reviewed studies on meth use and heart failure. They looked at 21 studies conducted from 1997 to 2020, involving thousands of individuals aged 35 to 60. These people used meth in various ways, including inhaling, injecting, swallowing, smoking, and snorting, ranging from daily use to just a single occasion.

The study found a link between meth and heart attacks, along with other serious issues like heart failure, high blood pressure, strokes, and sudden death. While most users study participants developed heart issues after five years, about 18% faced heart failure within a year of their first use. Alarmingly, a few had heart failure after using meth only once.

Study participants with heart disease also had more severe symptoms than those of the same age and background who did not use meth. Additionally, those who use meth were more likely to have other health issues, use additional substances, and suffer from conditions like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression.

The study highlighted that heart problems in those who abuse meth are so serious that treating them is much more expensive than treating heart disease not related to meth use. For example, in California, the cost of treating meth-related heart disease soared from about $41.5 million in 2008 to $390.2 million in 2018, marking an 840% increase. The costs for treating heart disease not linked to meth, by contrast, rose by just 82%.

How Does Meth Affect the Heart?

Meth has profound and damaging effects on the heart – indeed, it’s one of the most dangerous drugs in terms of cardiovascular health. Here’s how meth affects the heart:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Meth stimulates the central nervous system, causing an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This heightened state can strain the heart, especially during prolonged use.
  • Arrhythmias: Meth can cause irregular heart rhythms, which may feel like a fluttering or racing heart. These arrhythmias can lead to more serious heart conditions or even sudden cardiac death if not addressed.
  • Constricted blood vessels: Meth causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the heart. Over time, this can lead to heart muscle damage due to insufficient oxygen and nutrients.
  • Increased risk of heart attack: Meth use places strain on the heart. Combined with its effects on blood vessels and blood pressure, this significantly increases the risk of heart attacks. Even those using meth for the first time can experience a heart attack if the drug’s impact is intense enough.
  • Cardiomyopathy: Chronic meth use can lead to cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle weakens, making it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. This can result in heart failure and other serious health problems.
  • Aortic dissection: In rare cases, meth can cause an aortic dissection – a tear in the aorta’s inner layer. This condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

The damage meth causes to the heart can be irreversible, leading to long-term health complications or even death.

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How to Prevent Crystal Meth Heart Attack

Preventing a heart attack related to crystal meth use involves addressing the root cause: methamphetamine abuse. Implementing strategies for prevention and intervention can significantly reduce the risk of developing severe cardiovascular issues associated with meth use. Here are key steps to prevent a crystal meth-induced heart attack:

  • Avoidance of meth use: The most straightforward and effective way to prevent heart problems from meth use is not to use the drug at all. Education and awareness about the dangers of meth can deter initial use.
  • Seeking help for meth addiction: If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, seek professional help. Treatment programs, including detoxification and rehabilitation, offer support and strategies for overcoming addiction.
  • Regular medical check-ups: Individuals with a history of meth use should have regular medical check-ups to monitor heart health. Early detection of cardiovascular issues can lead to timely intervention and treatment.
  • Healthy lifestyle choices: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate some of the cardiovascular risks associated with meth use. This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and managing stress.
  • Education and community support: Community programs that educate about the risks of meth use and offer support to those at risk can play an important role in prevention. Peer support groups and community health initiatives can provide resources and encouragement for those seeking to quit meth.
  • Access to naloxone: For those at risk of overdose, having access to naloxone, a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, can be life-saving. While naloxone does not directly prevent a heart attack, it is a core component of harm reduction strategies for individuals using substances.
  • Legal and policy measures: Enforcement of laws regulating the production, distribution, and possession of meth can reduce its availability. Policy measures that focus on treatment rather than punishment for those who use drugs can also encourage people to seek help for addiction.

By addressing meth addiction and its health impacts, individuals and communities can work together to reduce the incidence of these life-threatening heart problems.


Can crystal meth cause a heart attack?

Yes, crystal meth can cause a heart attack. The drug increases heart rate and blood pressure, which can strain the heart and lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks.

Can meth give you a heart attack the first time you use the drug?

Yes, even the first use of methamphetamine can trigger a heart attack. The intense impact on the heart and blood pressure from initial use can be severe enough to cause a heart attack, especially in individuals with underlying heart conditions.

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Get Treatment for Meth Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

If you need help addressing the effects of meth addiction, we can help you at Renaissance Recovery. We treat stimulant addictions in an outpatient setting at our facility in Huntington Beach, CA. This enables you to fulfill your everyday commitments without neglecting your recovery.

Although meth addiction can be aggravating, it is primarily psychological in nature. Following withdrawal, you will engage with personalized treatments, such as:

  • Motivational therapies
  • Psychotherapies
  • Holistic therapies
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare and support

Start your recovery from meth addiction right away by calling 866.330.9449 for on-the-spot assistance.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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