Cardiovascular Complications of Acute Amphetamine Abuse : Cross-sectional study

Elham Bazmi, Farinaz Mousavi, Leila Giahchin, Tahmineh Mokhtari, Behnam Behnoush


Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate cardiovascular complications among patients who abuse amphetamines. Methods: This cross-sectional study took place between April 2014 and April 2015 among 3,870 patients referred to the Toxicology Emergency Department of Baharlou Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Those with clinical signs of drug abuse and positive urine screening tests were included in the study, while cases of chronic abuse were excluded. Cardiac complications were evaluated via electrocardiography (ECG) and transthoracic echocardiography. Results: A total of 230 patients (5.9%) had a history of acute amphetamine abuse and positive urine tests. Of these, 32 patients (13.9%) were <20 years old and 196 (85.2%) were male. In total, 119 (51.7%) used amphetamine and methamphetamine compounds while 111 (48.3%) used amphetamines with morphine or benzodiazepines. The most common ECG finding was sinus tachycardia (43.0%), followed by sinus tachycardia plus a prolonged QT interval (34.3%). Mean creatine kinase-MB and troponin I levels were 35.9 ± 4.3 U/mL and 0.6 ± 0.2 ng/mL, respectively. A total of 60 patients (26.1%) were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. The majority (83.3%) of these patients had normal echocardiography results. The mean aortic root diameter (ARD) was 27.2 ± 2.8 mm. Abnormalities related to the ARD were found in 10 patients (16.7%), three of whom subsequently died. Conclusion: According to these findings, cardiac complications were common among Iranian patients who abuse amphetamines, although the majority of patients had normal echocardiography and ECG findings.


Amphetamines; Substance Abuse; Cardiovascular Abnormalities; Tachycardia; Echocardiography; Electrocardiography; Iran.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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