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Amphetamine abusers face blood vessel risk

Study finds more than triple the odds of aortic tear

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4:04pm, August 23, 2010

In case it isn’t already clear that amphetamine abuse is a bad idea, researchers now report that abusers face more than three times the risk of developing a tear in the aorta, the huge artery carrying blood out of the heart. Physicians consider such a tear an emergency with catastrophic potential.

The new findings appear in the August American Heart Journal.

An aortic tear, also called aortic dissection, brings on “the most horrible chest pain imaginable,” says David Waters, a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco. “Patients say, ‘I think I’m going to die,’ and they’re right,” he says. Without treatment, the fatality rate is ultimately about 75 percent, according to the Merck Manual Online.
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