Heart failure hospitalizations stemming from the use of methamphetamine have skyrocketed in California, according to new findings published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
In fact, the rate of such hospitalizations increased 585% from 2008 to 2018. During that same time period, heart failure hospitalizations not related to methamphetamine actually decreased by 6%.
The study’s authors tracked data from more than one million hospitalized heart failure patients who were treated in California. More than 42,000 of those patients—roughly 4% of the study’s total population—were diagnosed with methamphetamine-related heart failure. While 79% of those patients were men, a clear majority were white adults.
“Our study results should bring urgent attention to this insidious yet rapidly growing form of severe heart failure—methamphetamine-related heart failure, which is taking the lives of young people, straining healthcare resources and threatening to spread like wildfire in California, the West and to the rest of the nation,” lead author Susan X. Zhao, MD, a cardiologist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, said in a statement. “California is seeing a resurgence of methamphetamine use, and the problem has been made drastically worse in recent years by the increase in purer, more potent methamphetamine throughout our communities.”
The team aimed to increase awareness of this growing problem through their efforts. The ongoing epidemic involving methamphetamine tends to be ignored due to the equally devastating opioid epidemic, they explained.
“The long-term health consequences associated with methamphetamine use require recognition from the public as well as the clinical communities,” Zhao said. “This study was intended more as a public health alarm: The urgency of methamphetamine use disorder cannot be overstated.”