The Effects of Methamphetamine on Arteries & Blood Vessels

Multiple complications can result from methamphetamine use. Regardless of pattern of use, abuse or dependence, the major organs of the body can be hurt, and in the most severe cases death can occur. The arteries and blood vessels are significantly affected by use of this drug, which results in cardiovascular dysfunction and central nervous system damage.

Effects on the Arteries

The arteries are responsible for pumping fresh blood from the heart to the body. They serve as a highway of nutrient and oxygen supply to the muscles and organs. When methamphetamine use occurs, arteries become conductors of the drug to parts of the body and affect the messages sent to the rest of the organs by the brain. This results in the heart working harder and beating faster, constricting the arteries. This reduces essential blood flow and increases blood pressure and blood clotting. When the normal flow of blood from the heart by the arteries is restricted, the result is often a heart attack or infection of the lining of the heart called endocarditis.

Effects on the Blood Vessels

The blood vessels are responsible for transporting blood throughout the body. These vessels include the arteries, capillaries and veins. When methamphetamine is used, vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels occurs. This can lead to inflammation of the heart, seizures, psychosis, stroke and brain bleed due to lack of normal flow of blood. Constricted blood vessels also produce headaches, irregular heartbeats and chest pain. Additionally, the constriction of the blood vessels can cause pulmonary edema or excessive fluid on the lungs, leading to chronic lung disease.

Additional Considerations

Acute kidney failure is also a consequence of methamphetamine use. Blood flow occurs through the kidneys from the renal arteries and is filtered to extract waste. When the transport system is thinned due to use of the drug, this prevents the natural filtering process because of blood supply reduction and causes kidney failure, inflammation, and/or viral infection. Intestinal ischemia or diminished blood flow to the small intestines can also be a result of methamphetamine use. This can be a sudden event or occur over time with blocked blood flow to the intestines.

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